AFL Tasmania has rejected claims it is to blame for the woes facing the Prospect Hawks’ state league licence, declaring it is committed to a 10-team competition next year, including three clubs based out of Launceston. The former Western Storm club struggled to connect to Launceston football followers and reverted back to its Prospect name roots at the start of the month, but a senior player exodus could hold the club’s future at ransom. The Tasmania State League is at risk of playing out next season without one of its Launceston clubs and expects a Hawks board decision to be made at a last-ditch crisis meeting next Tuesday. High-profile TSL player Bart McCulloch told The Examiner on Monday the decision two years ago from AFL Tasmania to grant the Hawks a licence at the expense of departing South Launceston was the ‘‘wrong option’’. McCulloch said the state’s football body should have campaigned on recruiting candidates for the South Launceston board to ensure the club – the TSL 2013 premiers – was financially stable rather than focusing on organising a new Launceston football identity. TSL general manager Shaun Young said the state football body at all times strived to act in the best interest of competitions, clubs and football in general in Tasmania. ‘‘We acknowledge that people will have strong and passionate views in regards to football issues,’’ Young said ‘‘But they may not always be aware of all of the facts or understand the work that has been done behind the scenes to support those facing challenges.’’ Young has alleged South Launceston club members before the end of the 2013 season chose to withdraw – and were not forced – from the TSL and join the NTFA to secure its long-term future. He said AFL Tasmania ‘‘felt obligated’’ to support South Launceston players keen to remain in the state’s leading competition through the establishment of a new entity in Launceston to compete in the TSL. AFL Tasmania is trying to dismiss the notion of just nine clubs playing the 2016 season, leaving North Launceston and Launceston as the North’s only clubs. ‘‘AFL Tasmania is committed to supporting the Prospect Hawks and the Meander Valley community because of the club’s enormous potential to become a successful and sustainable TSL club in the long term,’’ he said. But AFL Tasmania has admitted that while it had a ‘‘strong preference’’ for a 10-team, 18 round competition, it had left the decision in the hands of the struggling Launceston club. ‘‘Once the decision from Prospect Hawks is made clear on Tuesday, December 1, AFL Tasmania will consult with the TSL clubs on what impact this will have on 2016,’’ Young said.