AFL and coronavirus | ‘Battle of Tasmania’ is on, says former North Melbourne Kangaroos powerbroker Ron Joseph


Buckley described those reports as “rumour-mongering” and “unwarranted”.

But Joseph believes the club still faces an almighty challenge to remain at Arden Street.

“I think North Melbourne has been identified as the club that they’d like to head AFL football in Tasmania,” Joseph told The Age.

“They haven’t got an AFL competition until they have a Tasmanian team. It’s a real issue for the AFL.

“Ben Buckley has played it well by playing a straight bat but he was involved with (Andrew) Demetriou and with (Gillon) McLachlan through a period there.

“The gate has opened widely as a consequence of what’s happening for them to sit down and think about where they want football to be in 25 years’ time or 50 years’ time.”

Joseph said he would “fight like buggery” to stay at Arden Street if the league again tried to relocate the club.

He was critical of Buckley being chairman of the club while living in Sydney.

“I think it’s an insult to the North Melbourne Football Club that he runs his presidency from Sydney,” Joseph said.

“A football club needs a president who is hands on.”

But North Melbourne chief executive Ben Amarfio leapt to the defence of Buckley on Wednesday.

”I’ve never worked with a chairman who’s been this engaged or involved,” Amarfio told The Age.

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“Think it’s sad and disappointing to describe him anything other than that.”

Amarfio, who has a vast experience in a range of roles in world sport, has been in the job at North Melbourne since the middle of November.

“There wouldn’t have been a day from when I started where Ben and I didn’t speak at least twice a day,” he said.

“The fact he lives in Sydney to me or anyone else at the club is irrelevant.”

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