North Melbourne relocating to Tasmania has been put back on the football agenda thanks to Footy Classified co-host Craig Hutchison, with the AFL on Tuesday saying “everything is a possibility”.
Hutchisonused the Channel Nine football program on Monday night to express his view on the Kangaroos calling Tasmania their permanent football home in the wake of the low crowd for their Friday night home game against St Kilda.
Kangaroo Jack Ziebell with the fans North Melbourne defeated the Adelaide Crows at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena on May 6, 2017. Photo: Quinn Rooney, Getty Images
Just26,107 people were at Etihad Stadium in what was also a celebration night for retired great Brent Harvey.
“It is time North Melbourne to have a deeper and serious look at Tasmania, because that for me is the greater opportunity for their footy club without actually compromising their supporter base,’’ Hutchinson said.
“I think they are in an unbelievable position if you leave emotion out to get the best of both worlds.”
Hutchison proposed that the club has a permanent training base in Hobart and playnine games in Tasmania [five at Blundstone Arena and four at UTas Stadium], nine in Melbourne andfour interstate.
He also believed the club’s women’s team should bepermanently basedin Tasmania.
Hutchisonsaid the current set-up in the state, which sees Hawthorn play four games in Launceston and North three in Hobart was “flawed”.
Those deals expire in 2021.
AFL general manager of football operations Simon Lethleanresponded to the calls on SEN Radio on Tuesday saying it wasn’t something that was on the immediate agenda for the league.
“[But] everything is a possibility,” he said.
“Our preferred model probably is one team in Tassie, but we’ve also been pretty clear too that there are two clubs there at the moment with five-year deals to play matches and that’s not changing any time soon.
“It’s one for three, four, five years time to discuss and see where clubs are situated.”
TASSIE HOME: North Melbourne and Adelaide clash at Bellerive Oval in round 7. Picture: Getty Images
AFL Tasmania chief executive Rob Auld said: “Craig Hutchison’s creativity and innovation is well known but my reaction to his recentthinking isthat we have a commitmentto the AFLclubs playing football in Tasmania, and the current deals that are inplaceuntil 2021.
“It isabsolutely not our place to comment on matters specific to AFL clubs.
“However, as demonstrated by the recent AFLW submissions we will continue to work to getting the best outcomes for Tasmania, bringingTasmania closer to the national competition.
“It is pleasing how Tasmaniacontinues to be a part of the national conversation.”
But the state government has knocked the idea on the head.
“The AFL will never be a truly national competition until Tasmania has its own team,’’ acting premier Jeremy Rockliff said.
“Tasmania is a proud football state and the government continues to believe that the AFL won’t be a truly national competition until we have our team.”
North Melbourne declined to comment on the matter.