GC17 clears last hurdle

SPECULATION is mounting that the Gold Coast will officially receive the green light for the 2011 AFL season this week after the budding club cleared the “last hurdle” yesterday.

AFL boss Andrew Demetriou is poised to give the nod after stadium ownership issues were all but resolved in talks with the Gold Coast City Council on Monday.

Just who would own and maintain the 25,000-seat redeveloped Carrara Stadium had loomed as a potential stumbling block for the AFL's 17th licence.

But the Gold Coast City Council yesterday passed a resolution to hand over stadium ownership to the Queensland government after an hour-long discussion with Demetriou.

Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke said the resolution was subject to further negotiations with the state government but had his “fingers crossed” that the licence would be announced this week.

“We (council) have just asked for a couple of conditions (including community access for other events). It's still subject to negotiations, but I think we are over the last hurdle,” Clarke said.

Clarke expected stadium negotiations to be finalised by Friday.

“Now I'd like to see a decision about the licence. There's no reason why we can't get the (AFL) Commission to issue it,” he said.

Demetriou will also attend the Gold Coast Football Club's team launch at Bundall today, adding further speculation about a 17th licence announcement.

Demetriou will present jumpers to Gold Coast players ahead of their first match in the TAC Cup against the Eastern Ranges at Gold Coast Stadium on Saturday.

The Guy McKenna-coached club will enter the second-tier VFL competition in 2010 before an expected AFL start in 2011.

Momentum has been growing after the state election win by Labor ensured a $60 million boost for the $130 million overall upgrade of Carrara Stadium.

The Gold Coast City Council will contribute $20 million and the federal government is expected to kick in $40 million.

The AFL said it would also make a “significant contribution” towards the project.

An announcement could not come soon enough for Brisbane Lions coach Michael Voss, who said a Queensland AFL derby would be “fantastic” for the competition.

“To come down the freeway and see the flags (of rival clubs) hanging out the doors of cars would be great,” he said.

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