Tasmania won’t meet Hawthorn’s mid-year deadline for contract negotiations as the state plays hardball in its quest for an AFL side.
Hawks boss Jeff Kennett says his club needs to know by June or July whether it will play games in Tasmania next season.
The state government recently put talks with Hawthorn and North Melbourne on hold until the AFL provides greater clarity on a timeline for a Tasmanian side.
The league instead indicated last Friday that it would set up an independent review into the merits of a side, to be completed by the end of the year at the earliest.
Hawthorn and North Melbourne will host four games each in Tasmania in 2021, but the longstanding deal expires at the end of the year.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said he is not inclined to meet Hawthorn’s mid-year deadline.
“I’ve made it perfectly clear that we wouldn’t be able to do that,” he told SEN Radio.
“We can’t frame those contracts up until we have clarity on what the future looks like.
“For the AFL to push this down the road for another 12 months, I don’t think it’s reasonable under the circumstances.”
It comes as the A-League revealed it would hold games in Tasmania for the first time in eight years.
Under the deal announced on Wednesday, Western United will play two games at Launceston’s York Park this season and another two matches in the 2021-22 campaign.
Gutwein is reportedly set to speak with AFL boss Gillon McLachlan on Friday.
The Tasmanian government remains committed to contributing $11 million annually towards a stand-alone side, Gutwein said.
An independent report backed by the state government found a five-year plan culminating in a side entering the AFL in 2025 stacked up financially.
Gutwein said Hawthorn and North Melbourne have been “good corporate partners” but male participation rates in the state are declining.
“We’ve had the elite game played here but it hasn’t acted as the magnet we envisage an elite team would do,” he said.
“It’s time for the sake of the game that the AFL provide a timeline.”
McLachlan has said the decision to not provide a timeline was because the league needs a clearer picture about the financial impact of COVID-19.
McLachlan also said the AFL could directly negotiate with Hawthorn and North Melbourne if required in regards to potential games in Tasmania next season.