Tassie A-League bid 'ahead of the rest'

Football Federation Tasmania chief Mike Palmer has challenged rival A-League franchise bidders to "show the colour of their money" as the race for a place in an expanded national competition intensifies.

A-League tasmania

Launceston's Aurora Stadium hosted Tasmania's last A-League clash in 2013 when Melbourne Victory played the Central Coast Mariners Source: Getty Images

With up to 12 interested parties knocking on the door for inclusion in a competition which could jump from 10 to 12 teams as early as next season, Tasmania’s attempt to win a place at the top table has state government backing, tacit support from the Prime Minister – and most significantly the financial firepower of cashed-up former Melbourne Victory board members Harry Stamoulis and Robert Belteky.

Football Federation Australia is due to release its criteria for inclusion to the would-be franchises early next year, and Palmer has no doubt that the substance fueling Tasmania’s attempt to force its way into a national football code for the first time in its history leaves its rivals in the shade.


Property mogul Harry Stamoulis is worth $626 million and was ranked at no. 95 in the 2016 BRW rich list, while car park king Belteky also has deep pockets.

“The backers have been very public about their wealth – which is one of the key selling points,” said Palmer.

“They see that as one of the reasons they merit a team because when then dust settles they will still be there with a tangible bid and the funds to make the thing come alive.

“I suspect that might see off a number of others who have come forward. Out of the woodwork there are maybe 12 locations who have said they want to be in the A-League. But there are not many where you can see the colour of their money.

“People are just talking about where they think teams should be … whether it’s south Sydney, it Wollongong, or a second team in Brisbane.

"That's a long way away from somebody standing in front of the media who you know for sure has the money to fund it ... and that's the advantage the Tasmania bid has.

“It has genuine and extensive state government support, plus there have been overtures from politicians here to the Prime Minister and I know that our premier (Will Hodgman) is going to meet with the PM soon and broach the A-League issue with him as well.”

The bid proposes that games be split between Hobart’s Blundstone Arena and Launceston’s Aurora Stadium until North Hobart Oval is redeveloped, with the aid of state government capital and possibly also Belteky and Stamoulis chipping in.

Though Tasmania’s population is only around the 550,000 mark, Palmer believes sporting passion runs deep.

“We have a vibrant sport's market – we might not be one if the bigger regions in Australia but it’s certainly one of the most passionate," he added.

“We don't have a history of high profile teams in national competitions but if we get the go-ahead we would attract support across the entire community. That’s the thing which will make it work.

“The reality is that the Tasmania bid came out unsolicited, and everybody else now seems to be scrambling to catch up.

"In the fullness of time we will see who is real in this game, and who is just making some noise behind the scenes."

Tasmania has 12,500 registered players – 9,000 of whom are aged between six and 12 – a participation rate which exceeds that of the AFL, which has 11,500.

Whilst AFL clubs North Melbourne and Hawthorn play a total of seven games each year in the Apple Isle, the A-league has also tipped its toes across the Tasman.

The last time an A-League match was played in Tasmania was back in January 2013 when 6,238 turned up in Launceston to watch Melbourne Victory and Central Coast, whilst Victory has played several pre-season matches there.

Palmer believes a new entity would attract average crowds of around 8000 to 10,000 – topping out at 15,000 for marquee matches.

He also said that a stadium deal in terms of rental and rights would be "very favourable”.

“Compared to stadium costs in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, it would be very inexpensive,” he insisted.

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4 min read
Published 2 December 2016 at 7:33pm
By Dave Lewis