There is a lot of talk today about the Cronulla Sharks, with some wanting them axed from the competition.
The first team I ever remember supporting was the Cronulla Sharks. My first favorite player was a young bloke they called “ET”. My first jersey, as a four year old, was a little Sharks jersey.
I’m a Panthers fan now, but the Sharks have always held a soft spot for me. I don’t want to see them axed!
The Cronulla Sharks have always struggled financially. While they have produced some very good players, they have never been helped by the fact they are geographically cut off from any sort of expansion because of surrounding clubs.
There have been so many plans announced over the years that were supposed to save the Sharks. None of them have worked.
So what can the Sharks do?
If it is between being axed from the competition, or relocation, you have to hope that every single club would chose relocation first.
The NRL has always been open to the idea of a club relocating to an expansion area and has offered the carrot of million of dollars to help a club establish itself in a new area.
I’ve always felt that the Sharks should take that money and relocate to Brisbane as a second team there.
Overnight, the Sharks would be one of just two NRL clubs in a Rugby League mad city that is the third largest city in Australia.
They would have use of Suncorp Stadium, which any team would love, and they would get so much more exposure in Brisbane which would see sponsors jump on board.
They would have a much larger junior catchment base up in Brisbane and hey, the Brisbane Sharks don’t sound too bad at all I don’t think.
Best of all, they would still have a heap of games they would be playing in Sydney every year as they play away games against Sydney teams.
I can’t see a down side to any of that.
Perth is another option.
The Perth NRL bid team, who know they will get inclusion into the NRL in the next round of expansion, have said that, while their ideal scenario is to establish their own club, they would welcome any Sydney team relocating to Perth.
That is something other less worthy expansion bids have completely ruled out!
The risk in moving the Sharks to Perth is, this is a club that would need to find a footing in a new area and go through a healing process somewhat. They would need time to get back on their feet and establish links in their surrounding area.
In Perth, they would not have that time to get back to their feet. As a true expansion club in a key market, they would need to hit the ground running, and I think that might be asking too much of a club we are really trying to save from extinction.
The good thing about the Sharks is, they are very marketable.
They have a great logo, good colours, they have a good history behind them…they are a pretty easy sell.
The problem is, where they are situated in Sydney, there just isn’t enough people to sell the club too in the most crowded sporting market in the world.
I would hope that, while the Sharks try to battle on in Cronulla, someone within the club is looking at the alternatives. I don’t want to see the Sharks axed from the NRL, I want to eventually see them win the Grand Final one day.
That might not be possible in Cronulla, but I reckon it wouldn’t take long in Brisbane.
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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