Southern AFL games in limbo as deal expires

The future of the state’s deal with North Melbourne appears uncertain, with key backers yet to renew contracts.THE future of AFL games in Hobart appears uncertain, as key financial backers of the deal with North Melbourne are yet to renew their contracts for next season.

A motion backing a continuation of Hobart City Council’s $250,000 a season contribution failed to win majority support this week, while TT-Line is yet to make a decision about extending its $1.5 million three-year deal, which expires at the end of this season.

Another major sponsor, RACT Insurance, has withdrawn its support, announcing it will not continue to pump $250,000 a year into the AFL club to bring the games to Hobart.

It’s understood the AFL wants a new two-year deal, which would see North Melbourne play two or three games in Hobart for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

That would mean the deal expires at the same time as Hawthorn’s deal to play four games in Launceston, allowing a broader negotiation about the future of AFL in Tasmania.

Hobart alderman Marti Zucco blamed the lack of support among aldermen for signing on for another two seasons on “political game playing” before the October local government elections.

The vote on the motion was tied 6-6. A majority is needed to authorise the council to begin negotiations with the AFL.

Aldermen who voted against the motion cited insufficient information about the social and economic benefits of hosting AFL games.

If the council does not continue its financial support, the pressure will be on the state government to ensure AFL is continued to be played in the south.

“The state government may pick up the slack for two years,” Alderman Zucco said.

The council is agreed, however, that no extra money would be committed to support a third game in Hobart.

A TT-Line spokesman said “discussions are ongoing with the AFL”.

The details will need to be locked in before the fixture is released by the end of October.

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