Following news over the weekend that saw Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman suggest the Apple Isle could relocate the Suns should the club fold, Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane has hit back hard, slamming both Hodgman and amazingly, the state of Tasmania itself.
The outspoken chairman scoffed at Hodgman’s claims Tasmania was destination for investment and “the nation’s premier tourism state”, saying they’re exactly the opposite.
“Oh come on, the only thing Tasmania has over the Gold Coast is unemployment. They talk about it as a basket state not a growth state,” Cochrane said.
“That guy is a riot — that Will Whatever-his-name-is.
“He should be appearing on Saturday Night Live. I thought April Fool’s Day was last week.”
Cochrane admitted the Suns weren’t were they wanted to be on the ladder, but said football in the state of Queensland is looking strong.
“If you look at where Brisbane and the Suns are sitting on the ladder you might say we’re struggling, but football in this state is in great shape,” Cochrane said.
“And I don’t think there’s anyone in Australia who would say Tasmania’s in better shape than Queensland.
“You’re looking at the opportunities in a state with well beyond five million people compared with a state of 700,000 where most of the population is either retired or unemployed.
“People say we’re still being funded by the AFL. If we can’t raise the money, how the hell would it work economically in Tasmania? The AFL, I can tell you, would have given this zero consideration.
“The Queensland Government and the Gold Coast City Council have over $200 million invested in our stadium. I suppose Will’s going to write that cheque to move us is he? This is a nonsense story.”
After finding themselves on the receiving end of a 102-point loss to GWS in round two, the Suns came out firing last weekend and upset Hawthorn by 86 points and recorded their biggest winning margin in club history.
With the club still struggling to retain its youth after the departures of Jaeger O’Meara and Dion Prestia at the end of the last year and former captain Gary Ablett contemplating a move at the end of the season, Cochrane admits the going does get tough at times.
“It’s been tough and it’s still tough. But I love a challenge and if you think it’s something I plan to fail on, then you don’t know me. I don’t do abdication. It’s not in my dictionary,” Cochrane said.
“People like to kick us when we are down and say we are without a soul. Believe me, we are not soulless. You come up here and meet our medical people and our welfare people and all of our staff. And our leadership group were challenged and they responded strongly behind the scenes last week.
“We showed against Hawthorn what we’d hoped to show from the start of the season and for some reason we couldn’t.
“We will shape the eight. We might not make the eight but will shape it.”