The AFL looks set to be free to use the Devils nickname for the new Tasmanian club after Warner Bros. reached out to the league.
After years of advocating, Tasmania was last week finally granted a licence by the AFL, with a 19th men’s team on track to join the national competition in 2028.
Attention immediately turned to what the new club would be called, with the Tasmanian Devils emerging as the logical and popular option.
But there was speculation the Devils name would be off-limits because Warner Bros. own the commercial copyright for their world-famous cartoon character, Taz.
Outgoing AFL boss Gillon McLachlan last week said he was confident the issue could be worked through if the club wished to be called the Devils.
Now Warner Bros. have given a reason for McLachlan’s optimism.
“The Tasmanian Devil (‘Taz’) is an iconic Looney Tunes character and Warner Bros. appreciates the AFL’s acknowledgement and respect of our registered rights,” a Warner Bros. Discovery spokesperson told AAP on Tuesday.
“We have reached out to the league and we look forward to a happy solution shortly.”
The AFL and the Tasmanian government will appoint a board in coming weeks.
Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff confirmed discussions with Warner Bros. were ongoing.
“But let’s face it, it’s our animal, and we’ll use it if we want,” Rockliff posted on Facebook on Tuesday.
“It’s Tasmanians’ team, so we’ll get together as a state soon and choose a name.”
Tasmania’s bid got across the line after the federal government chipped in $240 million for a contentious $715 million new waterfront stadium in Hobart.
The stadium was the final piece required by the AFL before approving the licence, which was unanimously backed by the 18 existing club presidents.
Rockliff has been under some political pressure to release further details about the agreement with the federal government and the AFL.
He said details such as funding, licence conditions and the club’s constitution should be released in “coming months”.
“These details will be released as soon as they are no longer subject to commercially sensitive cooling-off periods and various company establishment elements are complete,” Rockliff said in Tasmanian parliament on Tuesday.
Oliver Caffrey and Ethan James
(Australian Associated Press)