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International clubs in AFL by 2032?

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The AFL is now 21 years old and to commemorate the milestone Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper pondered what the sport's top league might look like in 2032, another 21 years time.

The paper talked to well known international advocate Kevin Sheedy, Geelong President and former AFL Commissioner Colin Carter, and AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou.

As much as the international footy community loves Sheed's enthusiasm, to read Demetriou suggesting the AFL may include clubs from outside of Australia was perhaps the the most significant aspect of the article. Many involved in international footy would love to see that happen, and Sheedy and Colin Carter (a long time advocate for South Africa) have suggested it before, but to have Demetriou state it as a possibility publicly could be considered quite a break through.

The AFL CEO was quoted as saying:

"If anybody had thought 21 years ago what the AFL looked like today, they would have been delusional and kidding themselves," Demetriou said. "Therefore, you'd hope in the next 21 years we've got the same 18 teams and if anything is going to happen, there will be more teams because that seems to be the pattern.

"The places that come to mind are Tasmania, northern Queensland and northern WA. And quite frankly, it's not beyond the realms of possibility as the world gets smaller that you could have a team based abroad. New Zealand or South Africa would be a chance."

It's not setting down a plan, but it's a start.

The past 5 years have seen the concept of taking Aussie Rules international far more seriously within the AFL, but Carter points out more needs to be done, especially if a 2032 timeline was to be met. Carter wrote a report for the VFL Commission in 1985 that became the blueprint for the national competition.

"I'm disappointed the AFL is not taking South Africa more seriously," he said, before advocating that the AFL increase the country's funding from around $200k annually to $2-3 million.

The article also hit all the right points to annoy some elements of the Australian football community, who always get upset by discussion of rule changes, overseas funding and a reduction in Melbourne clubs. Expect a backlash as this story scored the trifecta. In fact by just mentioning the AFL is 21 years old the article scores a "quaddie".

Read the full article by Scott Gullan at Experts predict a brave new world for the AFL.

Or you might recall our old friends at the Footy Wrap who went on to bigger things. Below is their lighter take on where footy might be in 2032 (apologies to New Zealand).

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International clubs in AFL by 2032? | 26 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Rory Slater on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 11:25 AM ACST

 

 

Incredulous and insulting - that ignorant and even contemptuous overseas countries i.e. NZ are being touted as potential future growth options by AD and the AFL for the Indigenous code, AHEAD of amongst others, the nations capital.

Is it any wonder that attendances are so fickle in respect of the token offerings our esteemed governing body expediently affords us from time to time, here in Canberra.

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Tobietta Rhyman on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 01:12 PM ACST

Hi Rory, just like to say that as a female player in Australia I do understand where you're coming from. There is a lot the AFL should be doing for grassroots football. However, I'm also from one of those "contemptuous" foreign countries, and I'l like you to recognise firstly that this site is for international footy fans, and secondly, that xenophobia and racism is practically the same thing. Grassroots, indigenous, women's or international development, if we want a real future for the AFL, let's kick racism out of footy!

---
Little Pommy Girl
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Rory Slater on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 02:15 PM ACST

Ta for the heads up little pommy girl.

Apols to have offended any PC sensibilities however to put my comment in context -

I certainly do not covet our indigenous game to any xenophobic extent however I do take exception to the governing bodies burgeoning obsession with globalising our code at the expedience of true domestic heartlands.

This is something we need to be very careful of as the games governing custodians, since we could well disenfranchise many of the loyal supporters as well as compromise what for many of us is an Australian cultural institution to this end, if managed purely from a commercial perspective.  For many of us this game is far more than simply a brand to grow based on any commercial criteria and that includes taking it off shore to a backwater i.e. NZ on a commercial whim and at the expense of the Nations Capital as one potential scenario.

I would have hoped that wfn had room for more 'insular' views on our game i.e. mine, rather than merely assuming the role of preaching to the converted and especially since they tout themselves as an 'international' forum. It should also be remembered that while our code may hold some international appeal, the game of Australian footy remains a predominantly domestic one, supported passionately by those of my persuasion, who without  it may well cease to exist.  

I strongly advocate that the codes strength lies in remaining uni lateral, as opposed to pitting itself against those global codes by going head to head with League, Union or Soccer across the ditch. 

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 02:43 PM ACST

We aren't stopping you from having an opinion Rory, although we will continue to keep a close eye on commenters being racist etc.  Although I think your xenophobia is clear what you've written has passed through okay in my view, although I disagree with you on many points, as we've endlessly debated elsewhere on this site so I won't bother again.

But I should think that continuously referring to NZ as a backwater does your argument and your credibility no favours.  Canberra has plenty of its own detractors, as does just about every city in the world depending on who you ask.  It'd be nice if people could argue their case by being positive about their own place rather than negative about someone else's.  Personally I've never been to Canberra, will do so one day, but it's a big world and I want to see most of it.  Been to Auckland and other North Island areas a couple of times, had a great time.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Rory Slater on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 03:28 PM ACST

Brett

Canberra is the Nations Capital.

Australian Footy is the National and indeed indigenous code.

This evokes a powerful symbology culturally I would have thought, for the game in these parts, if nothing else.

I have also been to NZ and Adelaide on a number of occasions and although Auckland may well be a fine city it is a foreign city that cannot be compared to Canberra or Adelaide or any other Australian city in this context, i.e. to say in respect of any historical pedigree, status or cultural affinity it may or may not share with Australian Footy.

NZ have been very successful in gleaning membership of our elite sporting leagues at the expense of more worthy Australian demographics for along time now, so in that respect I don't see how my sentiments can be construed as xenophobic or otherwise irrational when it comes to the Indigenous code .

Would you be open to Wellington usurping either or both Adelaides AFL elite brands?  I know you are the consummate altruist Brett but surely blood is thicker than H20 at some point.

 

 

 

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 05:43 PM ACST

Every area is free to advocate for themself.  On a personal level I will always advocate for my hometown of Adelaide (but if Port can't make a go of Adelaide Oval then maybe their time is up, but I suspect they'll do okay).  Beyond that, I judge every case on its merits.  Football heritage is just one part of those merits.  On that basis I think Tasmania ranks highly in terms of next cab off the rank, so combined with a reasonable sized population and strong public advocacy I think they deserve a chance next.  I don't rank Canberra as highly in the heritage stakes - sure they have footy going well back, but not as far as Tassie, and far more mixed allegiance to other sports, nor do they produce anywhere near the number of AFL players Tassie do.

To be honest Rory, you're the only person I can recall consistently calling for Canberra to have its own AFL side.  The public campaign for Canberra, if there is one, is miniscule compared with Tassie.  Perhaps you need to look in your own backyard rather than trying to block others.  Is there a Canberra campaign?  Maybe you start one otherwise it will never happen.

As for the "Nation's Capital" argument, I'm afraid you might see that as a bigger plus than most people.  For many, Canberra is a place where the politicians do their arguing before returning to their electorates, other than that it's just one of the many nice cities across Australia.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Tobietta Rhyman on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 05:53 PM ACST

Rory did you know there are many people who share your opinions, only about football spreading beyond it's traditional heartlands of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia? I'm sure you could fully explain to them the importance of Australia's game being properly represented by every Australian state. And you'll be pleased to know that beyond boosting AFL match television audiences, the AFL puts hardly any funding into the development of the actual game overseas. And that's what most of us are here for. So if it's a point about where the money from the AFL's latest multi-billion dollar TV broadcast deal is going, we all hear you.

 

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Little Pommy Girl
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Rory Slater on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 08:07 PM ACST

 Brett I find it difficult to accept how ignorant you are to Canberra on so many levels for one so 'worldly'.

 There has existed a campaign to have the AFL take Canberra seriously even before the Swannies were relocated to Sydney.

 This campaign has continued only to be given the expedient treatment by the governing body time and again.

Your rhetorical quip re Canberra pollies is not original and smacks of prejudice from my perspective.  I along with many Austrlians call Canberrra home, a home as worthy of recognition and as integral and vital as anywhere in the country, culturally contributing to this community and this country we call Australia.

I have for long championed Tassie as a deserved AFL location for elite status however the bankers that run the governing body continue to expediently dismiss this strong footy heartland.  The ACT, albeit not of Tassies historical pedigree, are on a par in the footy stakes these days, however I would not want to see us leap frog them to this end.

So again, NZ being entertained in the same breath as the ACT, NT or most anywhere else in the country seems a contradiction on your part, (acknowledging a professed bias for that sovereign, non Australian Football, country), for the very same reasons you would endorse Tassie ahead of Canberra, albeit Canberra's footy cred is far more compelling over NZ  than Tassies is over the ACT.

Cheers Brett

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Rory Slater on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 08:26 PM ACST

It should not be the AFL's or it's supporters brief, to fund our code internationally, certainly NOT at the expedience of local footy demographics.  

The USA have equivalent home brands these codes are played all over the world and any country is free to embrace them which they do with gusto.  I do not expect the NBA would subsidise any Australian whim to have a piece of the American elite pie at any local expense. 

I don't believe NZ or any other country should be entertained in this respect either, not at the most esteemed tier the code offers which would be prematurely fake to be quite frank.  The only reason NZ are afforded this sort of privilege is geographical proximity and commercial potential, which is all very well however, since they have absolutely no footy cred of any significance in respect of Australian Footy, how can anyone advocate their presence in the AFL AHEAD of the many more deserving, long suffering and loyal demographics lining up for recognition.

I cannot be more succinct than that.

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 08:27 PM ACST

Nice try Rory.  Make it sound like I'm denigrating Canberra the city by saying your worthwhile Australians etc.  But clearly I keep pointing out that I'm sure it's a nice place ON A PAR with much of the rest of Australia, i.e. you're trying to elevate its status above others, I'm saying to many of us it's no better, no worse.

> Your rhetorical quip re Canberra pollies is not original and smacks of prejudice from my perspective.

Sorry Rory but it is not a dig at Canberra it's a dig at your overblown view of it.  It's one of many cities in Australia, yes it's the capital in political terms, but that hardly endears it.  I just don't think that's it's political status particularly pushes it ahead of Tasmania or Newcastle or Auckland. 

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 08:29 PM ACST

As for the push for Canberra to get an AFL side, I'm just telling you what I've heard about it, which is not much.  Perhaps within Canberra's bubble it is better known.  Like I said, you'd better get out there and push it so the rest of the country knows.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, July 04 2011 @ 10:03 PM ACST

Perhaps rather than focusing on why others do not deserve an AFL team, perhaps we can look at why you think Canberra does.  In terms of heritage (how old are the leagues, where have they stood in interstate comps, what are the great clubs), what kind of population base is there, what kind of allegiance do they have for footy versus other sports, are there local businesses like Ford at Geelong or what are the other options (these days most AFL clubs are indeed not geo located with their sponsor), has local government talked about supporting the long term goal, etc.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Rory Slater on Tuesday, July 05 2011 @ 10:21 AM ACST

Nice try Brett.

The fact is this is not about political status at all, that is a criteria you seem determined to conveniently dwell on in devaluing this Austrlalian Footy community for elite expansion in favour of an off shore option with little to no footy cred.

So Canberra = politics and little else, therefore not worthy of recognition in any way or form despite having NEVER visited your nations capital and incredulously knowing diddly about the codes history or status here.

Auckland = exotic foreign destination which you hold much affection for and despite lack of footy status and a parochial Union culture, should leap frog local and historically significant Aust Footy demos i.e. Canberra, in being recognised by the AFL as an elite base for expanding our great game to satisfy a desire to make the code appear more global.

Brett, if this is actually about footy status then Canberra is clearly heads and shoulders above Newcastle and most certainly anywhere in NZ in this respect.

I believe it may be in your interests, as an advocate for international expansion to educate yourself a little more about the domestic footy scene in the nations capital, as you seem more than capable of doing in talking up non footy demographics i.e. Auckland.  I do not need to convince myself of this regions potential or pedigree as well as being very much aware of the sporting culture and Aust Footy non status that exists in NZ, which is why I take great exception to notions that suggest NZ over Canberra, Tassie, Darwin or anywhere else in Oz for that matter.

Nuff said.

 

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Tuesday, July 05 2011 @ 10:43 AM ACST

You have a real chip on your shoulder there about Canberra Rory.  You keep re-interpretting my words to make it sound like Canberra is politics and that's all.  You're your own worst enemy.  Flowery words around culture but no substance.

There's far more to hosting an AFL side than just some history with the game, and I invited you to enlighten us as to the history, the culture, the demographics in terms of population and allegiance to the game, business and political backing.  You avoided answering any of that and simply say we should already know.  Either you don't have the answers or you naively think we should already know.  I hope someone else in Canberra is doing a better job of advocating for them than you because after all the lines you've written I don't think you've said anything to help your cause.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Cam Homes on Tuesday, July 05 2011 @ 10:53 AM ACST

That's not a chip, that's a log :-)

Cam

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Harley Vague on Tuesday, July 05 2011 @ 11:08 AM ACST

Rory . I sympathise with you . One of the failings of the VFL/AFL is that they didn't add a team in Canberra when they had the chance , when AR was stronger , when consortiums were seeking licences and before there other national football teams in the capital .A historical mistake that makes in more difficult today , but I feel canberra is not forgotten and I point to the GWS situation . Whatever way GWS goes Canberra will be better off .As regards to the article it wasn't a serious analysis but rather some well known people speaking out loud maybe more for effect than statement .Any serious analysis would see the focus on further development within Australia first before seriously tackling overseas .Take L.A. as one example . It is the least likely starting point . It is a city with the population of Australia .This makes it terribly hard (costly) to tackle .From a business point of view it is much easier to tackle and capture smaller cities .IMO there is a business case for the Southern hemisphere expansion much in the way the rugby has done it .I wouldn't be jumping up and down just yet as the AFL has only invested in a small number of countries where there seems to be a reasonable chance of some return .That return at the moment is a pathway to the AFL .It is not a league as an adjunct to the AFL . 

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Tondam on Saturday, July 09 2011 @ 09:04 AM ACST

I agree. The old VFL had a golden opportunity to cement footy as the number 1 sport in Canberra back in the 1960s. The place was crawling with ex-pat Melbournians who moved up there when departments moved.  I remember seeing 1000s attend suburbian crowds and the standard was very good. That was the time to strike but of course that was well before the game went national. Still a bit of foresight by the VFL could have helped make AFL the predominate code. But not all is lost. If the GWS experiment doesn't work they could always relocate down to Canberra or maybe increase the number of GWS games held in Canberra.

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Troy Thompson on Sunday, July 10 2011 @ 10:15 AM ACST

Central to Rory's issues are that international development comes at the expense of Canberra (or Tassie for that matter).  No one here wants to deny Canberra their earnt place in Australia's footy makeup, I believe (and imagine others here do too) that there really is no connection.  We are all for footy development whether it be in Canberra or elsewhere.

If in time a team does happen to be located somewhere like NZ it will be on it's merits on a commercial basis more than any other consideration, just as a team in Canberra would be.

Until such time, enjoy your local footy, promote it and support it wherever you are.

 

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Sunday, July 10 2011 @ 10:56 AM ACST

Agreed.  It's easy to get sucked into the Canberra vs Auckland type argument, but in reality the AFL has shown they want more clubs provided they offer something to improve the competition, either more TV viewers or a local rilvary or putting a club in their heart of a development area like GWS.  Like it or not, that's the reality, it won't put a club somewhere that doesn't offer anything substantial to the AFL brand, so again, like it or not, that is what a prospective new club needs to prove.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Harley Vague on Sunday, July 10 2011 @ 11:59 AM ACST

The AFL have signalled a change away from reducing the number of clubs to that of that of increasing the spread of AFL by way of new clubs or relocation .The creation of the GC and GWS clubs was one of timing .The GC can be seen as a good case of  not following in Canberra's inaction .

The number of AFL clubs stands at 18 .IMO the structure of the league will have to be addressed before the addition of new teams unless it is by relocation .On that note I find it a little strange that an (again) strong Hawthorn is the team with strong links to Tasmania and NZ  yet it can be secure representing Melbourne East .Are we missing the boat with better fits ?.

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Sunday, July 10 2011 @ 12:17 PM ACST

Well you have to wonder now that North Melbourne have signed to play games in Hobart whether THIS time they will actually ultimately move there.  They flirted with ACT, Sydney, Gold Coast, and now Tassie.

Certainly if there were less Melbourne teams or some relocate that will in theory make in more likely for areas like Canberra to get a side, in my opinion.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Tobietta Rhyman on Monday, July 11 2011 @ 05:31 PM ACST

Too many Melbourne based clubs, yes, but can we not move North Melbourne please? Don't send them somewhere random- they sponsor our women's team! And don't merge them with Melbourne because they sponsor the VWFL. I vote we send Collingwood to Antarctica as a political move to sure up Australia's territory claims there. And send the Hawks over to Tassie. They seem to like it there :-)

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Little Pommy Girl
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Harley Vague on Monday, July 11 2011 @ 07:30 PM ACST

I'm amazed that this myth still exists .It's not that there are too many clubs in Melbourne it's the fact that they are unevenly spread .The AFL could distribute more revenue to the clubs but an even distribution only serves to make the strong clubs stronger .Mergers too have lost their popularity as people realise that one club plus one club = one club with little gain .Looking to the future ,NM stands out as the club as last out with a strategy .I hope they can lock one in . 

 

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Troy Thompson on Monday, July 11 2011 @ 10:13 PM ACST

Who knows the financial modelling for the future might see 23 teams playing each other once over 22 rounds with 11 matches per round and a bye.  Tassie, ACT, another team in WA, another in SA and one in NZ or PNG?  Certainly expanding the talent pool could mean that a high standard can be maintained.  At any rate, I am happy to let the AFL worry about that.  I hope the Hawks stay in Melbourne but if they decided they had to relocate they would still be my team.  That may be more because I care more about my local footy than the AFL footy, wheras obviously tens of thousands of Hawks fans first priority would be their AFL club.  If they were to merge though I might think twice.

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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, July 11 2011 @ 10:39 PM ACST

We're struggling to support 2 in SA!  But a third for WA is quite conceivable.

My one worry is that with so much TV money in this and the next deal, footy departments are now huge and the players are expecting big pay.  With more teams that gets spread thinner or the TV rights have to go up.

With media changing so fast it's hard to know if that is feasible.  And it will need more viewers.  Where will they come from?  Obviously winning a bigger slice of Australia's most populous state, NSW, is a key.  A bit more in QLD too.  But hard to grow viewing in the other states since they are quite high already.  I guess that's one reason why NZ continues to appeal to me, as getting a slice of a few million people there has to help grow the pie.

But other than going outside of Australia I do see some growth restrictions, so I don't entirely agree with cos that "too many teams in Melbourne" is necessarily a  myth.  I think it can support an unusually large number, such as 5 or 6 but I wonder about 9 plus Geelong.  Like you said thought Troy, not something we need to worry too much about, economics and the AFL and I suspect state and national governments will have the biggest say in these things.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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International clubs in AFL by 2032?
Authored by: Harley Vague on Tuesday, July 12 2011 @ 11:59 AM ACST

The theory is that you need 400k~500k of population catchment area to support an AFL team (and that population to be resceptive to AFL and centralised).In theory WA could have another team whilst Tasmania ,Gold Coast and Canberra would struggle .I think you can add Geelong into that mix ! Nine teams in Melbourne is at the lower end of viability but Melbourne is predicted to continue to expand .

The reality is that a third Perth team would struggle and add little to the football equation .Clubs in Tasmania , Canberra and the Gold Coast have to survive on much lower attendances if only because their stadia are small . Geelong manages well because it has the new "boutique" structure .In Melbourne it's hard to see some clubs regain market share which is the underlying problem ,the unequal sharing of resources ..

The TV rights was a sensational  result but it was built on the addition of two new teams , a potential new market and FOX gambling on picking up new AFL subscriptions . Future rights will probably not change too much except if the situation is repeated  with the addition of new audiences .

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