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GWS officially granted 18th AFL licence

  • Friday, July 30 2010 @ 07:27 am ACST
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General News The AFL Commission announced yesterday that it had granted Team GWS a licence to become the 18th team in the AFL competition, starting in 2012. The announcement of the licence being granted was made Thursday after the formal signing of an agreement with the NSW Government and the RAS for a $60 million redevelopment of the Sydney Showgrounds – the home ground of Team GWS.

The inclusion of Team GWS has potentially very big ramifications for footy internationally. Coach Kevin Sheedy has previously flagged his intentions to seek international footy talent and backed that up this year with the recruitment of Bayanda Sobetwa from South Africa.

AFL Chief Executive Officer Andrew Demetriou said the AFL Commission had approved the 18th licence after Team GWS had met all criteria required of it by the AFL Commission.

He said the finalisation of the agreement for the development of the Showgrounds Stadium to stage AFL games was the final component after Team GWS had achieved all criteria set by the Commission to establish an 18th team representing Greater Western Sydney.

Mr Demetriou made the announcement of the 18th team today at a signing ceremony at Sydney Showgrounds with the NSW Sports Minister Kevin Greene MP and the NSW Minister for Western Sydney, David Borger MP, chairman of Team GWS, Tony Shepherd, CEO Dale Holmes and Team GWS coach Kevin Sheedy.

Under the agreement, the NSW Government has committed $45 million, the RAS $5 million and the AFL $10 million to the redevelopment of the Showgrounds into a venue that will not only host AFL games but provide improved facilities for the Royal Easter show and other major cultural and sporting events.

Mr Demetriou thanked the Premier Kristina Keneally and the NSW Government for supporting a new national team that would bring jobs, tourism and opportunities to the people of Western Sydney.

AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said the granting of the 18th licence was an historic decision and paid tribute to the work of Team GWS in building the case for a team in Greater Western Sydney.

“The work that has been completed by Team GWS over the past year has been first-class and the planning they have put into building the foundations of an AFL club and establishing the fundamentals and business model for future growth has been outstanding,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“It is always a big decision to bring in a new club and while we know the challenges that lie ahead, we also know that Team GWS has reached a position where we are able to grant the licence.

“While I want to pay tribute to the work of Tony Shepherd, Dale Holmes and Team GWS, I also want to thank the 16 current clubs for their support of the introduction of Team GWS into the AFL competition. We couldn’t have undertaken this process without that unanimous support for the expansion of the competition.

Mr Fitzpatrick said the AFL club presidents had been briefed on the Commission’s approval of the 18th licence.
“I also want to thank the AFL Executive team led by Andrew Demetriou and Gillon McLachlan for their work through this process.”

Mr Demetriou also paid tribute to Mr Shepherd, Mr Holmes, Kevin Sheedy and all members of Team GWS for their work in reaching the criteria set by the Commission.

“Team GWS has worked closely with businesses and families across Greater Western Sydney and much of the success of their campaign to date has been the support of the local community,” Mr Demetriou said.

“We are also extremely grateful to the NSW Government and look forward to working with them to build this club and deliver more jobs, tourism, economic activity and opportunities for the families of Western Sydney,” Mr Demetriou said.

“We are committed to investing heavily in our game development programs and in building the game from the community level through to establishing a new team in Greater Western Sydney and we have had wonderful support from the community, business and government because of the hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in tourism and economic benefits a sporting team brings.”