When I was four years old, the Cronulla Sharks were my favorite team.
The reason was because I liked the Sharks logo, it was cool. In fact my first every footy jersey is a tiny little Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks jersey.
When I went to primary school a year or so later, my favorite players was a Sharks winger called “ET”. It stayed that way for many years, and led me to want to play on the wing for every single team I played in.
If I had my way, the Sharks would play out of Cronulla forever. They would get packed houses every week, they would be a rich club and yet, Harold Hold would make a grand return and the Sharks would win their first ever Premiership.
Knowing my luck, it would probably be over Penrith!
So I write an article like this with a heavy heart because, I just don’t think the Sharks can afford to stay at Cronulla any more.
There are moves in place for the Sharks to set up a property development which would help the clubs financial position, however everything I’m hearing about it makes it sound like it is far from being a goose that will lay golden eggs. At best, it will allow the club to keep their head above water.
The Sharks have always struggled with their finances and despite some very rich moments in the clubs history on the field, they always have had to make do.
When you consider the financial pressures on all clubs these days, the Sharks find themselves very much as a small community club in an area surrounded by much bigger clubs, unable to draw decent crowds, unable to spend the full salary cap figure, unable to win games and unable to give rock solid assurances they will be around in 5 years time.
The people at the club love the place. Many take less than what they can get, they work their arses off to keep the club moving forward, to keep the life support system from being turned off.
Surely at some point, that just doesn’t become enough any more.
The next NRL TV rights deal will help a little as the grant the NRL gives to clubs is likely to rise. However, will that really be enough?
With an $8,000,000 carrot being dangled out there by the NRL for any club looking to relocate as well as a big stick being waves about in the form of extinction, surely it would be simple prudence that would see the Sharks looking into a full relocation of the club.
People have tossed up Adelaide in the past, I don’t see that happening.
Perth would take them in a heart beat but you’d need the WARL to basically ditch all the work they have put into marketing “The Reds” and then give up positions at a potential NRL clubs to the already established Cronulla Sharks management.
The Central Coast was probably an option in the past but not any more, not after David Gallop said that the North Sydney Bears had a good shot at an NRL expansion team. For all their talk about just wanting to get football on the Central Coast, the Bears types have gone out of their way to try and kill even a hint that another club may move to Gosford before the Bears old heads can claim a wage out of the NRL competition.
I think the best move for the Sharks would be to Brisbane.
I think they would be warmly welcomed by the city and obviously have use of Suncorp Stadium, which is the best Rugby League stadium in the world.
They would offer an alternative to fans living in Australia’s third largest city to the traditional Broncos monopoly, and yet there is plenty of room for both teams to claim media air time, sponsorship money and even players.
Hell, even the logo works well up there!
The problem is die hard Sharks fans, who obviously hate any idea of a move being tossed up, and thats understandable. The problem is, it may be between the club moving or dying, and in that case, Cronulla based Sharks fans would have to remember that they get to see around 8 Sydney based games for the Sharks no matter where they were located.
On top of that, surely the NRL could convince one of two of those clubs to play a home game at Shark Park!
I don’t like the thought of moving clubs, but its a lot less of an issue than a club simply withering away and dying. That is what is happening to the Sharks right now.
At this stage, they are battling on, but that battle can’t last forever. At some point, a very tough decision has to be made.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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