Sam McCulloch – Why The NRL Needs Expansion

Why Expand?

Expansion gives the NRL an opportunity to create a truly National Competition to expand into new markets and compete for the hearts, minds and dollars of AFL, Union and Soccer fans and future players.

Allowing the entry of another 2 NRL teams will allow the NRL and Clubs to gain more revenue from having another 20-40,000+ fans per week going through turn styles. It will also lead to a flow on in merchandise, broadcasting deals not to mention sponsorship increases due to a greater national exposure.

Expanding the competition by one or two teams opens up the salary market imagine having another $7-14 Million dollars out there to improve competition in the player market, it would give less reasons for players to defect and allow us to start a poaching war of our own against Rugby Union whilst providing more pathways to current and junior players.

Under the current broadcast schedule every NRL club is worth approximately $8 million dollars per season on TV, even a standard tinkering to the current TV deal to adjust for the 2 extra teams would easily cover the yearly expenses and cover extra salary cap concessions to make these clubs successful straight away.

Who Goes In?
Clubs bidding for entry are Perth, Central Coast, Wellington, Central Queensland, Brisbane Bombers, Brisbane Brothers, Ipswich and Papua New Guinea.

Key categories to consider who goes in will be Broadcasting, Crowds, Marketing and Facilities with all that in mind I believe it’s down to only 4 bids that can be seriously considered Perth, Ipswich, Central Coast and Wellington.

Perth: Ranked 1st
TV: Perth is made for TV that 2 hour time difference is magical for Live NRL matches.
Friday night played at Perth at 730pm we see live on the east coast as our second game how can you lose with 2 live Friday Night games.
Saturday doesn’t matter where you play it you have a live fixture on both sides of the continent kick off at 5:30 we see it live at 7:30 and vice versa.
Sunday we would need to modify our current broadcast schedule but definitely could be accommodating.
Monday could be difficult but we endure.

CROWDS: Last time WA had a team and it wasn’t a good one, still produced better than average crowd figures of 13,000+. Parachute a well coached side in there and the skies the limit with the Western Pirates.

MARKETING: One team towns sell themselves look at the crowd that went to watch South’s vs Warriors can you ask for anymore proof of the support for Rugby League in this State. We can’t afford to let this area be lost to Soccer, Union and AFL any longer.

STADIUM: NIB Stadium is perfect for Rugby League 20,000 capacity rectangular field.

LOCAL DERBIES: Melbourne Storm, Brisbane Broncos, Sydney Roosters, Canberra and possibly Wellington battle for Capital Supremacy.

Central Coast: Ranked Equal 2nd
TV: Fits perfectly into the current TV line up and given its proximity to Newcastle and Sydney will bring in more viewers from City and Regional NSW.

CROWDS: Halfway between Sydney and Newcastle is easy for travelling fans it’s also a massive Rugby League heartland and it opens up a ton of local derbies.

MARKETING: Central Coast has more members than most Sydney Clubs and they sit outside the NRL and seeing the support that has been given to the Mariners in soccer shows they can sustain a franchise.

STADIUM: Bluetongue Stadium holds is all class brilliant location railway adjacent first class facilities and holds 20,000.

LOCAL DERBIES: Central Coast and Newcastle is a massive derby in the making not mention Central Coast vs Sydney clubs.

Ipswich: Ranked Equal 2nd
TV: Like the Central Coast Ipswich would also fit perfectly into the current broadcast schedule and will free us and give us more variety rather than suffering through every Friday night Broncos game.

CROWDS: Being less than 20kms from Brisbane and similar distance to Brisbane for Gold Coast fans will allow plenty of travelling supporters also having an Air Force base and being a huge Rugby League area will have plenty of local support.

MARKETING: Ipswich is already huge NRL breeding ground and one of the largest population growth areas in the country very hard to ignore this area. Becoming a 4th side in Queensland will add some variety and competition for Queensland sponsorship dollars.

STADIUM: The Queensland government has promise to build a 30,000+ stadium in Ipswich as soon as the request for a NRL side is granted.

LOCAL DERBIES: 4 teams in Queensland you have derbies all year round full of parochial Queensland fans.

Wellington: Ranked 3rd
TV: Giving live access for New Zealand fans on Monday and Friday now is already a massive challenge but Sunday and Saturday are perfect. A second team would significantly boost the TV deal from New Zealand.

CROWDS: Wellington could easily attract crowds well above the NRL average and take quite a few fans back from Rugby Union.

MARKETING: Two teams in New Zealand would be boom for both the newcomers and the Warriors with more exposure on TV will boost sponsorship opportunities for both and help steal some money out of Super Rugby team’s pockets. Also NRL clubs sponsors gaining more access in New Zealand markets would also be a win.

STADIUM: Westpac Stadium is a massive 35,000 seat stadium whilst it’s not a rectangular is a fantastic arena and already plays host to Union and League matches

LOCAL DERBIES: Wellington vs Auckland create a huge rivalry and would be a massive crowd draw also a capital playoff between Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and possibly Perth.

Brisbane Bombers, The Brothers whilst they are impressive bids I just don’t see an extra team in Brisbane getting any real traction and could end up like the GWS situation.

Central Queensland would be preferred over the Brisbane teams but Ipswich is better fit and with a set promise of a stadium to be built means it wins.
Papua New Guinea could never seriously get off the ground crowds, sponsors and TV etc just wouldn’t be there for it to gain access to the NRL.

It’s imperative that we push for expansion but the decision needs to be made soon with an acceptable timeframe to get stadiums, training facilities, sponsors, coaching, management, juniors, members, targeting the player market and renegotiating the TV deal for the 2015 or 2016 seasons.

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