Tuesday, December 09 2008 @ 07:03 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
The license bid team pushing for a Tasmanian side in the AFL is due to present its case to the AFL Commission on Friday, led by Tasmania's political leader, Premier David Bartlett. The widespread belief is that the AFL will receive the bid but proceed with their plans for Gold Coast and West Sydney sides (the latter perhaps on a slower timetable). In which case the Tasmanians will have to watch on, frustrated again.
Perhaps that reality is already causing frustration. In previewing their case, key bid member and ANZ Chief Economist Saul Eslake stirred up the debate by referring to the West Sydney region, in some respects seen as Tasmania's competition, as Boganville. That's a suggestion that the people of West Sydney are bogans (a derogatory term suggesting they lack sophistication or class). It also has cache because it sounds very much like Bougainville, a semi-autonamous island of Papua New Guinea that was often in the news a few years back. It's a strange call by Eslake, who is very much the public face of ANZ, one of Australia's biggest banks - one wonders what other ANZ staff and shareholders think of their Chief Economist alienating potentially 2 million customers in the western suburbs of Australia's biggest city?
Western Sydney's Blacktown City Council Mayor Charlie Lowles wasn't drawn into the mud-slinging, responding, "Blacktown City looks forward to hosting the second AFL team in Sydney and to the sporting talent that will come from the second team" and "Western Sydney will be great for the future of AFL and AFL will be great for the people of western Sydney".
It's expected the business case put forward for Tassie will show that with a stadium deal at Launceston similar to Geelong's at Skilled Stadium, and with widespread public support including plenty of Tasmanian's now living in Melbourne, that Tasmania can indeed support an AFL club. It seems the team now have their sites firmly set on the license expected to go to West Sydney, with the other possible option, of taking on a relocated Melbourne club, or benefiting from a merger freeing up a license. However the AFL appears determined to steer the current 16 clubs through the global financial crisis, but the depth of handouts required is already growing rapidly. Port Adelaide have joined the list of clubs to make a big loss in 2008, and Melbourne, for all its positive changes recently, led by Irishman Jim Stynes, still has a mountain of work to do before it is saved.
Challenging times for the AFL and all its clubs, both current and future.