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Tassie government will not meet Hawthorn's deadline as license tension grows


The Tasmanian government will not meet Hawthorn’s imposed deadline of July in working out their contract situation beyond 2021.

Both the Hawks and North Melbourne will play games in the state this year, but with their contracts up, the future of games in Tassie remains unclear.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein made it clear that they would not enter negotiations until they had greater clarity on a 19th AFL license.

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett told the Herald Sun earlier in the week that they would need to know what the future held by July.

“We just want to know where we stand and we would need to know by the end of June or early July. If Tasmania is not going to be our major sponsor and we are not playing in Tassie (beyond 2021), it will take us six months to get our sponsors into place,” Kennett said.

“And the AFL needs to know where we are going to play our games.”

The AFL last week pushed a call on the license to the end of 2021 and similarly, Gutwein says his state now has no intention of dealing with Hawthorn or the Kangaroos any time soon.

“No I’m not (inclined to meet that deadline). I’ve made it perfectly clear that we wouldn’t be able to do that,” the Tasmanian Premier told SEN’s Whateley.

“We can’t frame those contracts up until we have clarity on what the future looks like.

“For the AFL to push this down the road for another 12 months, I don’t think it’s reasonable under the circumstances.”

The AFL released a statement last Friday saying they would investigate the possibility of a team in Tassie, but that it would not do so until late 2021 or early 2022.

Gutwein was disappointed by this outcome.

“This has been going on now for nearly 30 years. In fact, discussions about a Tasmanian team I can recall back in the 1990s,” he said.

“It’s about time this was brought to a head and the correspondence I sent to (Gillon McLachlan) a few weeks ago provided him with two options, one was to provide us with a pathway to a team around 2025 in line with our business case or simply to say no.

“Once again what we’ve seen is this decision has been kicked down the road and I don’t think it’s good enough to be frank.”

While Gutwein has no problem doing business with the Hawks or Roos, he feels the state needs its own team to stem dwindling participation numbers.

“I just think we’re at that point where we need to see a pathway for young Tasmanian talent and importantly for us to grow the base here in Tasmania and it’s a point I’ve made to Gil on a number of occasions,” he said.

“The last 20 years, Hawthorn have been good corporate partners, there’s no two ways about that, and the last decade so have North Melbourne.

“But what we haven’t seen is corresponding growth in the base in Tasmania, in fact we’ve seen a decline, male participation has gone backwards.

“We’ve had the elite game played here, but it hasn’t acted as the magnet as we envisage our own team would do. It’s time, for the sake of the game in Tasmania, that the AFL provides us with a pathway.”

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The Tasmanian government remains committed to underwriting $11 million per annum of the team.

“In our budget we can commit to that and we can commit to that on an ongoing basis. There wouldn’t be many corporations that would have that capacity,” he said.

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