Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has given a detailed plan for introducing two more AFL clubs by 2028, including one in Tasmania with a new stadium on Hobart’s waterfront.
The AFL will in coming months deliver findings on the business case for a stand-alone Tasmanian team, the league’s potential 19th franchise. McGuire suggested that a 20th team might be based in Darwin or North Queensland, against a possible push for another Western Australian side.
He suggested that an existing Victorian AFL club should act as a bridging team, partnering with Tasmania and playing some home games in the state until 2028. He also forecast a 12-team finals series of 15 games in an expanded league.
McGuire spelled out the extreme cost of bringing the plan to fruition, while explaining his blueprint on Nine’s Footy Classified.
“The time has come for all parties promulgating a team in Tasmania to put up or shut up,” McGuire said.
“The AFL cops it whichever way it goes, politicians make unrealistic demands, clubs don’t want to take any more hits while still trying to get through COVID-19.
“So having spoken to key people across the gamut of interest, here goes.
“Tasmania you can have a standalone team in the competition in 2028 but from this year, you need to contribute $20 million per season indexed forever. You also need to hit the federal government up for $20 million forever. The AFL will be in for a similar amount and you’ll need to find another $10-15 million in commercial profit to make this work.
“You need to build pathways scholarship and talent programs contribute at least six players per year into the AFL draft by 2028. You’re averaging two at the moment. Sandringham Dragons average six from their catchment area, so it’s not too much to ask.
“But this plays to education, health and the excitement of the game for a whole new generation of kids in Tasmania. Tassie must commit to being an AFL state.
“Premier, you need to decided where your ground will be. That’s your call but it needs a roof.
“One influential Tasmanian who knows a bit about the caper said to me quote, ‘Macquarie Point in Hobart, right next to the docks, restaurants and night life, is smack-bang in the centre of town. The joint will go nuclear, he told me. That’s what we want, nuclear.”
McGuire said that a Tasmanian team would need to be embraced by the entire state, as would their home venue. He said that a covered venue seemed a non-negotiable, for footy and otherwise.
“It can’t just be a footy team, it has to be life force for the Tasmanian community,” McGuire said.
“For football, for cricket, for concerts. Lets be serious about this, if you want to be on Friday night football, you have to have a roof on your stadium. You don’t want to be the last game on Sunday, it defeats the whole purpose.
“You must coordinate universities and lifestyle opportunities. Sports medicine facilities to attract the best athletes in the country, to want them to stay in your team and stay in your state.
“So, let’s get the money from infrastructure, health, education and tourism budget and private enterprises. Alongside the best Tasmanian leaders, Brendan Gale, the retiring Brian Cook, Geoff Walsh in conjunction with people like Brad Scott and Mick Malthouse, are just some of the names in the men’s game I’d be lining up in what would be the biggest development in our game for the next 20 years.”
McGuire said that a Victorian team could tender for rights to play in Tasmania until the introduction of a local team, under favourable terms. North Melbourne and Hawthorn have frequented Tasmania in the past.
“There is nothing more demoralising than having reluctant partners. This has to be a competition solution. So everyone plays their role,” McGuire said.
“So, the team that has this golden opportunity by partnering with Tasmania by 2028 needs to tender for the position. And what a deal I have for you.
“I propose the team plays four home and away games in Tassie, then they get 12 games in Melbourne and play two interstate. Members receive free Kayo and deals to travel to Tasmania. The four away games come from AFL-assisted clubs, that’s their contribution and that can be mitigated to access from away games at the MCG.
“It works for everyone. One game per year is a blockbuster against one of the big clubs, with a full festival of football scheduled in Tasmania. Commission president’s meetings, media relocations of shows like this, symposiums and a genuine show to Tasmania that we love them and that we’re building something fantastic.
“This team still gets as many home games in its city as an non-Victorian team and their future is assured. It’s a good deal.”
As for the 20th team?
“Now here’s where things get interesting; if we’re going to have the trouble of bringing Tasmania in, it makes sense to not only have a 19th team but a 20th as well,” McGuire said.
“The AFL Commission has a once in a lifetime opportunity to finish the job to be the only real national competition in Australian sport.
“A 20-team competition foxes the fixture. Everyone plays everyone once. Maybe have a derby rivalry showdown round.
“That means 20 weeks x 10 games, that’s two more than what we have at the moment at 198 games at 22 x 9. I propose a final 12; which gives you hope late into the season for everyone making the finals. And 15 finals, not nine.
“Now, that’s conservatively $20 million more a year in TV rights in today’s money for two weeks’ less games for the players.
“The success of Optus Stadium in Perth and opens up an opportunity for a third West Australian team. A licence fee of $100 million has been spoken about seriously.
“But the natural home for me is Darwin and far north Queensland. Call them the Crocodiles and for good measure we might play two games in LA. But that’s for another day.
“Billions of dollars of sporting infrastructure is going into the Olympics in Queensland. It will give Indigenous boys and girls opportunity to play professional sport. What momentum for the game and Indigenous health for boys and girls in their own backyard.”
McGuire offered a blunt warning to Tasmania.
“There are options and Tasmania better not miss the boat again,” he said.
“When Tasmania does things big, like the magnificent Museum of Old and New Art, MONA, it leads the world … and that’s the thinking we need. Innovative, progressive, exciting.”
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