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Timeline of the nationalisation of football Part III - From AFL to GWS

Roar Guru
26th October, 2015

In this final part of the series we look at the events through another Brisbane and Sydney failure, the demise of Fitzroy, introduction of more teams and the gradual shift of focus to the north of the country after the 1996 Grand Final.

1992 – Reuben Pelerman voluntarily returns Brisbane to the AFL and subsequently to a member owned structure.

1992 – October 22. AFL Board of Directors votes to keep Sydney in the competition for a futher three years.

1992 – Sometime in 1992, Alan Schwab signs off on a list of draft requirements for a new club based in Fremantle, and due to begin operating in 1993.

1993 – June. The AFL Commission sits down with the WAFC to look at the issues involved in getting a second team off the ground.

1993 – Canberra launches another bid for an AFL side to relocate.

1993 – December 15. The AFL announces that it has reached its ceiling of teams with the inclusion of Fremantle, and no more than 16 teams will be in the AFL. Plans for a second SA license hinge on relocation or merging of Victorian sides.

1994 – The AFL announces a second license for South Australia. This kicks off a round of applications from Port Adelaide, as well as joint applications from Norwood-Sturt, and Glenelg-South, however Port Adelaide was the AFLs preferred choice. Norwood spent $150,000 putting together a joint Norwood-Sturt bid to claim the second licence. After Oakley briefed the SANFL delegates at a hotel on North Tce, Norwood director Phil Gallagher left the meeting declaring the bidding process was a farce – the AFL wanted Port Adelaide.

1994 – May 8. Tasmania invited to particpiate in the AFL reserves competition, the VSFL.


1994 – June 22. A Cartel of Four SA clubs – Central Districts, North Adelaide, West Adelaide and Woodville West Torrents launch a bid for the second SA license. By this time all SANFL sides are involved in bids.

1994 – August. Dyson Hore-Lacy, who had taken over the presidency of Fitzroy from Leon Wiegard in 1992, and Ian Ridley of Melbourne fronted the commission with a proposal for a Fitzroy-Melbourne merger given Fitzroy’s debt, which was then revealed to the commission as $2 million but later that month became $2.6 million.

1994 – Novermber 21. The SANFL meets with the AFL concerning a second license for SA. The AFL says “”This matter has not yet been considered in detail by the AFL Commission and no an nouncement will be made today or in the foreseeable future by the AFL”.

1994 – December 13. Port Adelaide wins the tender for the second SA license over its various state rivals, however it cant enter the competition before 1996 (as stipulated in the Crows license agreement).

1994 – In 1994 outspoken Collingwood president Allan McAlister called for a three-way merger between Richmond, Melbourne and North. In August of the same year it was revealed that the name “Melbourne Lions” had been registered and speculation continued that the Demons would amalgamate with Fitzroy despite the Lions continually vowing to go it alone.

The Lions were in massive financial trouble but still demanded the club be known as the Fitzroy-Melbourne Football Club. They were preciously short of bargaining chips and couldn’t bring financial benefits, a large fanbase or a training ground to the union. Other clubs also complained that Melbourne would be able to boost their list with the best six Lions players.

1995 – Fremantle begin playing in the league.

1995. May 15 – Footscray says it will oppose any attempt to introduce Port Adelaide into the 1996 season


1995 – Carlton and St Kilda hold talks on a merger. Talks cease when Blues win the grand final.

1995 – October 10. Port Adelaide appoints John Cahill as senior coach for the 1996 season if it enters the league.

1996 – April 16. Fitzroy chief says future is secure.

1996 – March 6. Fitzroy board authorises board members Dyson Hore-Lacy, Elaine Findlay and Robert Johnstone to enter non-binding merger agreements with other AFL clubs.

1996 – May 6. Fitzroy and North Melbourne hold first merger talks.

1996 – May 11. A non-binding agreement to merge and the basic terms of name is struck between Fitzroy and North Melbourne. A Heads of Agreement document detailing the conditions of the merge in writing is signed.

1996 – May 13. A Brisbane merger offer is formally rejected by the Fitzroy board.

1996 – May 20. First Fitzroy shareholders’ meeting to explain the conditions of a North Melbourne – Fitzroy merge.


1996 – June 18. A meeting between North and Fitzroy to execute the merger document canceled. Greg Miller, North Melbourne’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) tells Dyson Hore-Lacy that North Melbourne wanted to change the name of the merged club from the already agreed ‘Fitzroy-North Melbourne Kangaroos’ to ‘North Melbourne-Fitzroy Kangaroos’.

1996 – June 20. The Fitzroy board rejects North Melbourne’s revised conditions.

1996 – June 24. The Brisbane Bears are contacted by Fitzroy and advised to submit their best merger offer to Fitzroy for consideration.

1996 – June 25. A compromise between North Melbourne and Fitzroy is reached.

1996 – June 26. Fitzroy Football Club offers $550,000 plus $100,000 to be paid over the next two years to their only secured creditor the Nauru Insurance Company to settle their debt. This offer is rejected. Nauru wanted $750,000 by the end of August and $100,000 for the next three years to consider their debt settled.

1996 – June 27. Nauru Insurance Company agrees to $750,000 by the end of August and $100,000 for the next two years and $50,000 for the third. North Melbourne board member and one of the chief merger negotiators Peter de Rauch says North Melbourne will not allow any more than $550,000 to be paid.

1996 – June 28. Nauru Insurance Company appoints an administrator (Michael Brennan) to recover their debt.

1996 – June 29. Fitzroy negotiates with Nauru to pay $550,000 by August 1996, $150,000 in 1997 and $100,000 in 1998. Peter de Rauch agrees to put that proposal to the North Melbourne board on Monday 1st July


1996 – July 1. The Fitzroy board agrees to underwrite all monies owed to Nauru over the sum of $550,000. The AFL commission gives Fitzroy and North Melbourne until Friday 5th July to complete their merger.

1996 – July 2. North Melbourne’s Greg Miller informs Dyson Hore-Lacy that North Melbourne now wants only four Fitzroy board members on the board of the merged club. Fitzroy refuses to accept that condition.

1996 – July 3. North Melbourne backs down on their demand of 2nd July, but still wanted none of the current Fitzroy directors on the board. North Melbourne was asked by Dyson Hore-Lacy to give an undertaking to Fitzroy that there would be no more changes to the agreement of 25th June. No such undertaking was given.
1996 – July 3. Nauru Insurance Company accepts $550,000 paid before August 31st, $350,000 paid before October 31st 1997 and the rest of the balance payable in $50,000 payments annually from 1998 onwards.

1996 – July 3. The Fitzroy board re-opens merger discussions with the Brisbane Bears. The Bears are told that the merger door with Fitzroy is “open half an inch”
1996 – July 3. Greg Miller the CEO of North Melbourne informs the media that without 54 players on their 1997 list there would be no merger with Fitzroy.

1996 – July 4. Fitzroy is informed by the AFL that the merger would be rejected by the other AFL clubs if North Melbourne continued to demand 54 players. Dyson Hore-Lacy informs North Melbourne’s Ken Montgomery and Greg Miller of this fact.

1996 – July 4. Fitzroy settles last niggling disputes in their proposed merger agreement with North Melbourne and signs a formal document setting out the merger in fine detail, which includes the new agreed name of the club to be the ‘North Fitzroy Kangaroos Football Club’. The merger agreement is set to be signed by the AFL on Friday morning (5th July) subject to the AFL clubs’ endorsement.

1996 – July 4. AFL Presidents’ Meeting rejects the Fitzroy-North Melbourne merger. After a meeting between the administrator of Fitzroy and the AFL commission, the AFL commission recommends a Bears-Fitzroy merger. North Melbourne withdraws from the merger race. A reconvened AFL presidents’ meeting endorses the AFL commission’s recommendation of a Brisbane Bears-Fitzroy merger.

1996 – July. The AFL Commission is informed of arrangements for a merger being discussed between Melbourne and Hawthorn.


1997 – Port Adelaide begin playing in the AFL.

1997 – The AFL launches a commission to investigate ways to improve the game in New South Wales.

1998 -Tasmania proposes a VFL team to go along with a stadium redevelopment, however the Commission had real doubts about the ability of the Tasmanian market _ population 450,000 _ to support financially a team in the AFL competition where the larger clubs are already generating up to $14 million a year in revenue

1998 – The commission into New South Wales footy reports back, resulting in the formation of the AFL NSW/ACT Commission. Planning begins for a second team in Sydney.

1998 – A Commission is launched into the improving football in Queensland resulting in the formation of AFL Queensland.

1999 – Merger talks between Carlton and North Melbourne cease when both sides make the Grand Final.

1999 – North Melbourne begin playing some home games at the SCG until 2001.

2001 – St Kilda and Hawthorn begin playing matches in Tasmania under an initial three year deal.

2002 – North Melbourne begin playing some home games at Manuka Oval until 2006.

2006 – The Saints decide not to keep playing in Tasmania. Hawthorn remains

2006 – September 1. Hawthorn signs a 5 year deal with Tasmania to play 4 games a year in Launceston.

2006 – July 13. North Melbourne confirms it is leaving Canberra to play 10 games over three seasons on the Gold Coast. North says its not part of a plan to move the club north.

2006 – August 6. Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs sign a deal to play a premiership match a year at Manuka Oval in the ACT until 2009.

2007 – January 25. Ron Joseph says its inevitable that North Melbourne will move to the Gold Coast permanently.

2007 – November 17. North Melbourne offered 100 million to move to Gold Coast, contingent on getting a stadium deal.

2007 – December 6. North Melbourne formally reject the AFL offer, largely because there was no stadium deal.

2007 – December 12. The AFL informs North that it will no longer have its community camps and preseason matches at Carrarra.

2007 – 24 December. The AFL formally registers the name Gold Coast Football Club.

2008 – January. Western Sydney Football club registered by the AFL.

2008 – March 12. Clubs give unanimous support to the inclusion of GWS and Gold Coast

2008 – April. A bid group called GC17 is formed to meet the AFLs criteria.

2008 – April 16. Tasmania invited to apply for an AFL license.

2008 – June 25. A survey conducted in 2008 by the State Government found that 48% of Tasmanians support a Tasmanian bid, 23% of Tasmanians would consider becoming members41% of Tasmanians would consider attending games. The AFL treats the bid with contempt.

2008 – July 31. Mars Confectionary announces a potential $4 million sponsorship for a Tasmanian team if it gets up.

2008 – August 28. The Senate formally calls for a committee into the AFLs expansion backed by Tasmanian senator Kerry Obrien.

2008 – November 18. The AFL formally accepts GC17 and Western Sydney having met all criteria and grants the licenses.

2008 – December 11. The AFL says the Tasmanian bid was comprehensive and ticked all the boxes.

2009 – March 27. Gillon McLachlan, told a Senate inquiry in Melbourne that Queensland and New South Wales were priorities for the growth of the game and says the AFL has not closed the door on a future Tasmanian side, but he is not sure it could happen.

2009 – April 1. Andrew Demetriou says that if there was ever to be another AFL club, then the next one should be Tasmania.

2009 – May 6. North Melbourne enter discussions with the AFL to play up to 3 games a year in Canberra.

2009 – May 9. Carlton play one off home game at Carrara.

2009 – June. The Senate Enquiry reports that there are cultural barriers facing a Western Sydney-based AFL team that appear to be insurmountable.

2009 – October 19. Melbourne, Richmond and Bulldogs sign deal with the NT Government for 10 games over 5 years between them with Port Adelaide to be the away side.

2010 – July 25. North Melbourne announce intentions to play games at a redeveloped Eureka Stadium in ballarat.

2010 – July 26. North Melbourne deny a deal has been done to play games in Hobart

2010 – August 5 – Kennett says Hawthorn ready to continue their Tasmanian partnership for another 20 years.

2010 – September 30. Richmond announce they will play an annual game in Cairns for three years.

2010 – November 11. North say they could play as many as 7 games a year in Tasmania if they were guaranteed 11 games in Melbourne.

2010 – November 11. Canberra and GWS sign a ten year, 24 game deal for games in the ACT.

2010 – November 16. A poll in the Age has 72% sayin that North should gone to the Gold Coast.

2010 – November 16. Kennett says North would have eventuially moved to Tasmania entirely if it had been able to play 7 games.

2010 – November 16. Tasmania renews Hawthorn deal for a further 5 years, through 2016.

2011 – June 7. North Melbourne sign a 3 year deal to play matches in Hobart.

2011 – October 1. Richmond sell remaining Darwin game to Melbourne.

2013 – July 19. Richmond finish contract to play 1 game a season in Cairns. They opt not to renew.

2013 – October 5. St Kilda sign 5 year ANZAC Day fixture deal with Wellington Council in NZ

2013 – October 23. Melbourne announce a deal to play three games in Darwin – 2 regular and 1 preseason game.

2013 – October 31. Western Bulldogs announces as Richmonds replacements in Cairns.

2014 – July 3. Melbourne announce an extention to the deal that sees another two years and two matches in the NT