Former AFL boss Demetriou backs Northern Territory club

Former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou believes the league’s 20th team should be based in the Northern Territory.

Tasmania will join the AFL in 2028, making the AFL a 19-team competition.

But outgoing boss Gillon McLachlan said last week there needed to be “20 or 18” teams and the league could not stay at 19 for long.

The AFL is extremely unlikely to cut a team, or force a merger, so another club is the logical option.

Demetriou, who was in charge when the AFL introduced Gold Coast and GWS in 2011 and 2012, said the league needed to have 20 teams to add a 10th game into the broadcasting deal.

“I’m a Northern Territory fan; to produce a lot of players (for the AFL),” he told SEN on Wednesday.

“A Northern Territory team that could play in Alice Springs, maybe in the north of Queensland, maybe a northern Australian team.

“It’s very good AFL country up there, and I’m sure they could they could produce a fixture that would complement the climate and so forth.

“Northern Territory, it’s got a lot going for it.”

Tasmania’s bid got across the line after the federal government chipped in $240 million for a contentious $715 million new waterfront stadium in Hobart.

The stadium was the final piece required by the AFL before approving the licence, which was unanimously backed by the 18 existing club presidents.

An AFL Northern Territory report was released in 2021 urging the AFL to forgo commercial considerations and establish a club with “social impact” in the NT.

“We don’t have enough AFL footy here so our kids are not inspired, they need to be inspired,” AFLNT chief executive Stuart Totham said when the report was released.

Demetriou said he was confident the NT could get enough financial support for a club to work.

“There are a lot of private companies up there very interested in supporting a development up there,” Demetriou, who left the AFL in 2014, said.

“There’s also some Indigenous foundations that would be supportive, I imagine, that might get federal government support.

“I’m sure people at the AFL would be putting their heads together to come up with some formula.

“The AFL has been very successful in acquiring infrastructure of funds and you can see the history we’ve got the best infrastructure of any sporting code in the country.”


Oliver Caffrey
(Australian Associated Press)


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