The Independent Commission has been in place for just a few days and yet we are already seeing a lot of interesting development happen in regards to the next round of expansion for the National Rugby League competition.
Already there is talk that Perth may be the venue for the end of season test match between Australia and New Zealand. That is a huge sign that the ARLC is now ready to invest in Perth, and they wouldn’t do that if they didn’t think it was the best place for an NRL club.
In recent days Tony Sage (Owner of the Perth Glory soccer club) has been in the media saying he is interested in owning a side with his friend Benny Elias. Personally I think they are no chance, simply for the fact that the WA Reds, who are in no way connected with Sage, have been working for a decade to be ready to enter the NRL. If Perth gets an NRL team, it will be the WA Reds.
The dominoes are lining up. Talk of hosting a test match, the WA Government being lobbied to upgrade, if not completely redevelop NIB Stadium, hell even the Perth Glory soccer team and Western Force rugby union team have said they want an NRL club in Perth!
When you throw in the fact that we are coming into a new broadcasting deal, and the WA time zone works perfectly for having Sunday afternoon games in Perth being broadcast live during prime time in eastern Australia…..Perth is all but a done deal. The ARLC just needs to give the WA Reds the official green light.
The sooner the better in my opinion.
South East Queensland will get the other expansion club for two reasons.
First of all, it works as far as putting value into the broadcasting deal. Brisbane is the third biggest city in Australia and the second biggest Rugby League market. Having a second Brisbane team will give broadcasters in Brisbane twice as much relevant content to sell than they have right now.
The other big reason a second Brisbane side makes sense is that it gives Brisbane a Rugby League game to attend every week. It seems crazy that a city like Brisbane that is a Rugby League city, at best, gets one game of NRL every fortnight to attend. It’s insane. That needs to be fixed, and a second Brisbane team will do that.
The Brisbane Broncos themselves have stated that there is plenty of sponsorship in the city looking to get involved in the game, and with the right marketing and people behind the club, a second Brisbane team will be a success.
The Daily Telegraph today is reporting that the Ipswich Jets are the preferred bid for a second Brisbane team. The Jets plan includes being based in Brisbane’s south west, playing games at Suncorp Stadium, but their long term goal is to hopefully receive funding to build a stadium in the Springfield area, an area that is expected to be the fastest growing area in South East Queensland in the future.
Where does this leave other bid teams?
For some it will allow them to plan for the future. The likes of Central Queensland, Wellington and Papua New Guinea will be better for the opportunity to bolster their bid credentials over time. It will allow them to secure funding, sponsors and get facilities in place.
It will also allow the Rugby League and media markets in those areas to mature. When the NRL is looking to expand once again in the future, instead of looking to fill gaps in the current Rugby League and media markets, they will have the ability to look further afield. This time will allow these bid teams, and the game in general, to create a greater demand in these areas.
As for the Brisbane Bombers and Central Coast Bears, this news is a death knell for both.
If Brisbane was to get another team in the future there is little doubt the Redcliffe Dolphins would be the drivers behind that bit. As for the Central Coast, do you think the NRL will be looking to “expand” in 2020 to…. North Sydney?
The business of expanding Rugby League into new markets is very exciting. It is one of my favorite subjects to write about and you would hope that the ARLC shares the same sort of enthusiasm when it comes to bringing new fans in new areas to our game.
The possibilities for the NRL’s future expansion are incredible to think about. After all, its the decisions that are made today that will put the game in the position it will be in tomorrow.
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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