The AFL is at the "heavy lifting" stage of deciding whether a Tasmanian team joins the league.
League executives met with the club presidents in Melbourne ahead of Wednesday night's season launch, with AFL chairman Richard Goyder and chief executive Gillon McLachlan buoyant that the competition is over the worst of COVID-19.
As they spruik their hopes for a record attendance in round one, McLachlan and Goyder remain short on detail about discussions over Tasmania's bid for its own team.
It was a key topic at Wednesday's meeting and Goyder was asked afterwards whether clubs are concerned a Tasmanian team might not be affordable.
"The concern is that Tasmania is affordable, among a whole lot of other things," he replied. "We want to make sure, if we do something here, that it will make financial sense, as well as a whole lot of other things."
McLachlan said the ongoing work around Tasmania's bid remains confidential.
There are about 10 or 11 issues, from financial, to list builds, to stadia, to governance," he said.
"The framework is there, the discussions are getting meatier, the heavy lifting will be happening over the coming months."
The presidents were also briefed on when the AFLW season will be played, amid speculation it will be moved from its current summer schedule.
"It will be a quick process and we'll have a decision on that in the next couple of weeks," McLachlan said.
Goyder announced an extra $8 million in funding for community football, saying it is the "backbone" of the game.
The league will also negotiate new collective bargaining agreements this year for the men's and women's leagues.
Goyder and McLachlan were most expansive on the start of the season, spruiking their enthusiasm about a potential round-one attendance record.
That is despite Western Australia games being held to 50 per cent capacity, at least for this month, because of COVID restrictions.
"It feels like we are getting back to some normality," Goyder said. "We reinforced to clubs today that we need to get on with our lives and learn to live with COVID.
"The thing we emphasised is that we're playing on - games will be played when they're scheduled to be played.
"It's incredibly important to all of us that we re-engage with our fans, we return to some of the rituals we're all familiar with and instill the sort of confidence we want in the football community to come back."
McLachlan said all the indicators, and his feeling, is that fans are keen for the AFL season to start.
"All of the indicators - ticket sales, memberships - as well as my own Colonel Sanders recipe for 'mojo', says we're ready to go," he said. "I'm bullish. I really feel there are going to be great crowds."