top of page
  • Writer's pictureDeclan Mythen

A lack of unity surrounds South Hobart's 'Tasmanian NST Team'

On March 1, South Hobart Football Club announced its intention to enter a new Pan-Tasmanian entity into Football Australia's new National Second Tier, which is set to launch next year. Front Page Football  was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the press conference hosted by Vice President Edward Swan.

South Hobart FC Vice President Edward Swan. (Image: Photography By Nikki Long)


Last year, South Hobart progressed through the application process to join the NST, though it fell short of making the foundation club shortlist. ‘Tasmanian NST Team’ spokesperson Ed Swan explained that the club always intended to have a single, united Tasmanian team in the NST.


“When Football Australia put out and started the [NST application] process, they publicly, and in the Expression of Interest documentation, expressly sought bids from existing Australian clubs with a deep connection and demonstrated history in Australian football to participate in the tournament,” Swan said.


“We read the room…what we were really looking to do here was establish a Tasmanian team."


South Hobart FC would form the nucleus of the 'Tasmanian NST Team'. (Image: South Hobart FC)


South Hobart put forward a case to Football Australia in August, proposing that the club become the nucleus of a brand new state entity that would better represent and serve the interests of Tasmanian football in the NST. Formal feedback from FA indicates the technical aspects of the bid are sound, noting the exception of meeting the financial requirements.


The ‘Tasmanian NST Team’ is now seeking a $10.5 million government commitment to help fund the team until 2029 ($2.5 million for the first season and $2 million for the following seasons), with South Hobart putting up $1.1 million per season. Swan believes a team for the entire state of Tasmania is better than a team representing just Hobart (or a part of it).

“The intent is it [the ‘Tasmanian NST Team’] will be a new body; new board, new name…[We will] play games at Darcy Street in South Hobart...and play games in the north of the state as well,” he explained.


South Hobart is communicating with the Hobart City Council and the state government regarding infrastructure upgrades at their home ground, which include ground levelling, increased seating capacity, and new lighting. There are also discussions with the Launceston-based NPL clubs concerning future NST games in that city and what needs to be done to get their facilities up to an NST standard.

South Hobart beat the Devonport City Strikers to win the NPL Tasmania Finals Series last year. (Image: The Mercury)


The club envisions the Pan-Tasmanian entity as having strong grassroots and community links that can unite all existing clubs in the state under its banner. Swan claimed his and South Hobart's vision is already supported by the majority of NPL Tasmania and Women's Super League clubs and the various junior associations. These are reinforced by letters of support from the Minister for Sport, Nic Street MP, and other politicians at a state and federal level across the political spectrum.


The ‘Tasmanian NST Team’ are not deterred by Football Tasmania CEO Tony Pignata’s desire to create a Tasmanian franchise to compete in the A-League Men.


“We have a letter of support from Football Tasmania, and they’re supportive of our endeavours in pursuing a Tasmanian team in the second division," Swan revealed.


“We’ve engaged extensively with Football Tasmania…for the last 12 months."

The ‘Tasmanian NST Team' hopes to eventually compete in the A-League Men via promotion when that is inevitably introduced. It also harbours ambitions to enter the yet-still-proposed women’s NST and desires to compete in the A-League Women via promotion from that hypothetical league.


Swan is sceptical of an A-League Men franchise’s ability to offer Tasmanian players opportunities, believing instead that a community-run NST entity would provide better pathways for local players and signalling that his team’s vision would lessen the need to bring in players from interstate or overseas to remain competitive.

“There will be Tasmanian players in this team…it will be a Tasmanian team," he assured.

The Tasmanian and greater Australian footballing community were stunned when, only four and a half hours after ‘The Tasmanian NST Team’ held their press conference, Pignata rebuked their endorsement claims by issuing a public statement that FT would not support the bid. Instead, the state's governing body announced they would focus on securing funding for regional football hubs and licenses for the A-League Men and Women. This seemingly 180-degree decision contradicts claims made by South Hobart that the state federation supported their Pan-Tasmanian vision.


FT’s statement attracted a flurry of social media backlash, with many noting the lack of unity in the game. Comparisons have been drawn to Football Queensland and Football Victoria, who have allegedly attempted to impede ambitious clubs wanting to join the NST. Worryingly, a trend is seemingly forming concerning state federations getting in between Football Australia's vision and aspiring clubs' desires.

Front Page Football  reached out to FT to clarify their stance but received no response. However, Pignata spoke with The Mercury, in which he stressed FT’s stance by disclosing that the state body had no issue with a South Hobart-led body joining the NST. However, they would not assist them in securing state government funding that the federation believes is better spent on facilities for A-Leagues ambitions. This stance is compounded by Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White’s alleged reluctance to fund South Hobart’s project if elected the state’s new premier today.

 

READ MORE ON FPF

South Hobart’s ambitions have seemingly run headfirst into an intersection of competing interests and issues in Tasmanian sport, with the state’s forthcoming AFL license and corresponding stadium becoming a political football ahead of the election.


In turn, there appears to be a lack of a united front in Tasmanian football that can petition the incoming government for much-needed funding. The lack of a consensus on where funds are best spent and which national competition offers the best opportunities to Tasmanian players will no doubt temper any government’s desire to invest in the code on the Apple Isle.

What can be discerned is that any excitement over either a team in the NST or the A-League Men has been stifled by the time-honoured tradition of seemingly factional squabbles within Australian football.


Comments


bottom of page