If you support a club in Sydney the chances are even you feel like there are too many NRL clubs based in Sydney.
Sydney is the most saturated sporting market in Australia, and for good reason. It is the economic powerhouse of the nation, with the biggest corporate base to draw upon along with having the biggest population. As a sport you HAVE to crack the Sydney market, otherwise you’re just a pretender.
Having so many NRL clubs in Sydney could be seen as a good thing. It allows the NRL to cover all the bases in such an important market. I does make you wonder however at what point each NRL clubs starts to canabalise the resources of its neighboring clubs.
Look at the Cronulla Sharks vs the St George/Illawarra Dragons for instance. The Sharks have a relatively small area of Sydney they can call their own, and due to the fact they are surrounded on all sides by other clubs, they don’t really have the ability to grow.
The Dragons meanwhile have it a little easier, with a foothold in the Illawarra. However, they also struggle with having to compete with other Sydney based NRL teams, and are a stones throw away from the current NRL premiers. It is not a good situation for either club to be in.
The Parramatta Eels and Canturbury Bulldogs are in a similar situation. Both are arguably targeting the geographic heart of Sydney for their supporter base, a a huge area, and they co-exist pretty well when you consider that they are massive rivals.
The Eels look to push more towards the north west (Towards Panthers territory) while the Bulldogs look towards the south west (Towards Tigers territory) as areas they can expand their presence and try to make a larger area of Sydney belong to them.
The Wests Tigers have a tentative foothold in Balmain, however they are most certainly moving towards being a team from the Macarthur region. They will eventually have a very important part of Sydney all to themselves, but for now, it is not enough to sustain the club in a corporate sense, and due to their split loyalties, they really don’t sell themselves to south western Sydney as being “their” team.
The Penrith Panthers are lucky to have a very large part of western Sydney all to themselves, with the ability to spread north and south (Towards Tigers territory), but also west into the Blue Mountains and beyond. In this sense the Panthers are very lucky, however as you move towards Blacktown the clubs presence diminishes and you almost find an estuary of support that is a mix of uncommitted Panthers supporters and Parramatta Eels supporters.
The Manly Sea Eagles have to deal with some strange geographical and transport issues in Sydney’s northern beaches, and a peculiar reluctance to market themselves as a representative of the northern Sydney. Strangely, the Sea Eagles seem happy to just belong to Manly, and many feel that northen Sydney will be lost to other sports if the greater region doesn’t have a team to call its own.
Then you have the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs. The Rabbitohs have done a fantastic job to push themselves as an all of eastern Sydney club, while also embracing supporters who live in the cities west. This however pushing them into direct competition with the Bulldogs and Eels.
The Roosters try to market themselves as “Sydney” but in reality they focus on a tiny section of the eastern suburbs, which is just as important as any other part of the Sydney, but it absolutely kills them in terms of the portion of Sydney that considers the Roosters “their team”. I contend that you could start a brand new NRL club, play it out of the SFS, call it the “Sydney Whatever’s” and they’d gain more uncommitted NRL supporters from across Sydney than the Roosters have managed to achieve in well over 100 years of existence. None of this is helped by the fact the club is also surrounded on all sides by other NRL clubs, and the most of their territory is completely dominated by the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Of the 16 teams in the NRL, 9 of them are based in Sydney. That is a bit ridiculous. You will not find another big time sporting competition in the world with a similar number of teams based in just one city. Especially one with the population Sydney has.
This is made all the more ridiculous when you consider that Brisbane, the third biggest city in Australia, only has one team. Perth and Adelaide, both with decent sized populations, have no team at all, and all of New Zealand has just one single team despite producing so many players for the NRL and generating a good chunk of broadcasting money for the game.
There is no question the NRL needs to expand, but with so many teams in Sydney fighting for the same amount of territory, it makes you think that relocation would be the quickest and easiest option to not only service new areas, but to give established clubs a home they could call their own and finally be able to grow unencumbered by its neighbours.
So, which Sydney based NRL club would you select for relocation over the others? Vote in the Poll:
Don’t just select the clubs you dislike the most. Think about each clubs situation. Imagine it was your business. Really think about who you cote for. Lets see what people think!