GWS Giants are in the midst of negotiating with the ACT government to maintain their presence in Canberra for possibly a further 10 years.
The Sydney-based club is keen to extend its contract from the end of the 2022 AFL season.
“The Giants are committed to further increasing our presence in the ACT community and will continue to work with government on extending the current partnership beyond 2022,” the club said in a statement.
The ACT government is looking for a minimum commitment of five years before signing on.
But would also like to broker a fixture that could increase annual content at Manuka Oval to more than the three AFL premiership matches depending on the future direction of the AFL and the Giants’ ongoing contractual arrangements in Sydney.
A club spokesperson also said the Giants are “looking at a range of options” towards extending the partnership.
“The Giants’ longstanding partnership with the ACT continues to deliver significant growth across every aspect from the community to an elite level of the game,” the statement said.
“With 2021 marking the Giants’ tenth year in the AFL and the ACT, the club is both proud of what has been achieved in the nation’s capital over the past decade and excited by the opportunities that lie ahead.”
The three games in addition to playing both a preseason and an AFLW game every year that has been in place since the Giants debuted in 2012 was set to expire this year.
But the penultimate year of the contract last year was suspended and delayed on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic that prevented matches staged in Canberra after governments implemented ongoing travel and border restrictions.
The preseason game at Manuka Oval this year against Brisbane was cancelled after the AFL wanted to restrict interstate travel out of fear of governments imposing bans.
“The Giants were bitterly disappointed our ACT members and fans were unable to attend home games in Canberra last year due to covid,” the statement said.
“Despite this, the Giants have worked closely with the ACT government to ensure the current agreement would roll over to 2022.
“While we’re disappointed a complete return of home games to Canberra in 2021 isn’t possible due to the changes to the pre-season competition, we remain committed to playing one AFLW game and three AFL premiership games in the coming months.”
There is no intention to seek financial compensation from the Giants over the loss of the March 7 match after its agreement states “where possible to play a pre-season match”.
But the club’s AFLW match a day earlier next month at Manuka is still set to take place.
The current arrangement between the two parties is worth close to $2.5 million every year, costing taxpayers around $600,000 for every transferred home game.
The ACT government has all but dismissed the premise of Canberra throwing its hat in the ring to enter the AFL post-2025 after the Tasmanian government recently demanded of the AFL to act on its bid from last year.
The AFL plans to review a business case in favour of a Tasmanian team to join the national competition after chairman Gillon McLachlan had commissioned a taskforce two years ago.
Tasmanian powerbrokers did meet with the AFL last year to discuss the release of their findings, but McLachlan failed to act on the advice led by former Virgin boss Brett Godfrey that said the small state of half a million people could sustain its own club.
A Tassie club could open up an additional entrant from Canberra that has a similar population in addition to the seat of federal government to give the AFL 20 sides.
“This is largely a matter for the AFL,” an ACT government spokesperson said.
“In the meantime, the ACT has its own, albeit shared, team through its long-term partnership with the Giants.
“This unique co-located model continues to be highly successful.
“The ACT government values its relationship with the Giants, with the team becoming well established in Canberra over its 10-year history. The team now has a loyal Canberra supporter base and their presence has helped to grow participation in the sport.”