Tasmania Wants A-League Bid
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EXCLUSIVE: Football Federation Tasmania (FFT) CEO Martin Shaw believes Tasmania is a viable option for a Hyundai A-League license but any bid would require State government support.
So far the biggest noises from potential consortia looking for a way into the A-League have come from Townsville and the Gold Coast.
But with an 8000 strong crowd for the Pre-Season cup match in Launceston between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United, the largest of any regional centre including those in Queensland, the FFT supremo feels the island state has the credentials.
“There’s no doubt that we’ve got the fan support there,” said FFT CEO Martin Shaw. “If we have a team up and running next year I’d say we’d quite easily be able to attract a 10,000 average support base per game.
“Tasmanians love their sport but they love supporting Tasmanian teams, so they’d get behind a state team playing in a national league.
“There’s not a lot of other national sport that happens down here especially over summer.”
York Park (Aurora Stadium) in Launceston has already hosted Pre-Season Cup matches in 2006 and 2007 but a potential stumbling block is finding a facility to play a large percentage of home games in Hobart.
The State’s premier venue, Bellerive Oval, does not contain drop-in pitch technology rendering it unsuitable for anything other than cricket.
According to Mr Shaw this is where the Government could step in to provide support in redeveloping an AFL venue in North Hobart.
“I think if a consortium comes along and says they want to finance an A-League team then they’d have a pretty good case to go to State Government and Hobart City Council to start talking about a redevelopment,” he said.
“To be able to have a Tasmanian team in that league, we need some support from the government in terms of a facility.”
FFT has also recently overhauled their player development programs and have begun initiatives through the Tasmanian Institute of Sport.
Through these programs, officials feel that players capable of playing at a higher level will increase and potentially form the back bone of a Tasmanian team.
“The league down here, generally what’s happened the last ten years or so, is players come through and play in our premier league,” said Shaw.
“Then if they’ve got the potential they’ll generally move on to say, the Victorian Premier League and go play over there because that’s the next step up for them.
“In the early days maybe there wouldn’t a large number of Tasmanian players forcing a way into the side, but we would think as some of the young players coming through the programs now get to their late teens, early twenties that we’ll be able to have players coming through into a Tasmanian A-League team.”
Traditionally teams across the Bass Strait have struggled to maintain momentum in national competitions with only cricket’s Tasmanian Tigers remaining constant.
But Shaw does not see this as a hazard to any potential investors looking to form an A-League club.
“I think with the A-League and the nature of it, we’re not looking at regional companies coming on as main sponsors,” he added.
“It’s not a case of this being Tasmanian financed. You’re able to look outside into large companies, national, multi-national companies to help try and finance the team.”
The FFT boss also believes any team would be one of the smaller clubs in the competition and could look to the example of Central Coast Mariners.
“You’ve got to make sure the team is well managed and go out and target players fairly wisely," he said. "They’re not going to be able to throw around large amounts of money.”
Federation officials also feel an A-League team is something that is needed for the future of the game locally but there are no plans just yet to launch an immediate license bid of their own.
“Right now we’re waiting to see what comes back from the investigations FFA are doing in terms of looking at the potential cities for expansion and Tasmania is being included in that,” said Shaw.
“Once we get some information back from them in what the likelihoods are in being able to support a team, then we’ll be in a stronger position to try and move forward a little bit.”