The Commissioner of the taskforce assembled to have an AFL team in Tasmania, Brett Godfrey, has labelled Hawthorn and North Melbourne’s pursuit into the state a failure.
The taskforce, which is pushing for a team in Tasmania by 2025 – whether it be a 19th license or a relocated existing team – pushed strongly at the beginning of 2020, led by the likes of Nick Riewoldt and Brendon Bolton.
The Hawks and Kangaroos have been playing home games in the state for quite a while now, but Godfrey believes their efforts haven’t changed anything in Tassie.
“With all due respect to North and even Hawthorn, it’s been demonstrated that they haven’t really led to greater levels of fan engagement or participation (in Tasmania),” he told SEN’s Dwayne’s World.
“The government has got limited funds and they’re not just going to keep throwing the same amount of dollars into clubs frankly that really haven’t done anything for the growth of the game in the state.
“Now, people can howl at me for that comment, but at the end of the day the numbers speak for themselves.
“They’re 22 per cent off in terms of players per capita than they were 20 years ago, so it hasn’t worked.
“That’s the definition of insanity, we’ve got to try a different strategy and the strategy that the government has come up with is they will put more money on the table because they see the economic benefit and they can support a club.”
Godfrey and the taskforce remain steadfast on an AFL team in Tasmania in the next few years, despite COVID-19 financially devastating the game.
He feels the team would be immediately financially viable and therefore would not be a burden on the league.
“The reality is the model hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s probably stronger today than it was pre-COVID because under the model that was proposed and bilaterally supported by both sides of the government of Tasmania, the state was going to underwrite the club,” Godfrey said.
“Let’s just think about that for a second, every other club in the country would love that sort of benefactor.
“Which means the club as far as we were concerned and the report demonstrated was to be financially viable.”
Godfrey believes a move to Tasmania would greatly benefit any of the existing AFL teams.
“The issue we have is that was for a 19th team and perhaps the AFL believes a 19th team is a step too far,” he said.
“There’s other clubs that are struggling and all I think is that this is an opportunity for someone to grab it and continue and be successful, but first and foremost Tasmania deserves its time.
“Because if it doesn’t it’s very clear where it’s heading and it’s been very much demonstrated that new clubs, for instance GWS and the Suns, they’ve gone through the roof in terms of participation because they want to emulate their heroes.”