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AFL club expansion update

  • Tuesday, February 17 2009 @ 07:43 pm ACDT
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General News

The AFL Commission had their first 2009 meeting yesterday and on the agenda was expansion, in particular the proposed licences for the Gold Coast (17th, nominally 2011) and Western Sydney (18th, nominally 2012) and a strong push from Tasmania, led by their state government, for inclusion in the AFL.

With dire economic times there are various reports that the AFL are increasingly cautious about expansion, however CEO Andrew Demetriou remained publically upbeat, saying "We are very confident in what we have seen, and 2011 and 2012 (for western Sydney), for us, are still on track for our expansion".

GC17 are hopeful that confirmation of their licence will come in March - with a youth squad in training and about to enter the TAC Cup it would seem highly unlikely that they would be denied or delayed, but as confirmation continues to be postponed there will be increasing nervousness. Certainly most commentators are sceptical of a 2012 date for Western Sydney.

The Tasmanian bid continues to be well received but as we've speculated previously, it now seems more likely that the Apple Isle's best chance is if an existing club relocates or merges. In a statement the AFL said, "While the Tasmanian government understands that they are not competing for the 17th or 18th team licences, which have been decided for the Gold Coast and Western Sydney respectively, the AFL Commission has reviewed the submission and the next step will be to prepare a response to the Tasmanian government submission in the coming weeks".

Tassie's Sport and Recreation Minister Michelle O’Byrne said, "I am looking forward to getting that response so that we can move to the next phase in our discussions with the AFL".

To offer some further speculation, the options over the next 5 years, in order of likelihood (most to least), appear to be: no licence for Tasmania, a relocation of an AFL club to Tasmania, a merger of two AFL clubs freeing up a licence for Tasmania, Tasmania replacing Western Sydney as the 18th licence option, or a 19th licence being issued. The gap between the first few options appears to be closing.