NRL expansion must still be considered by ARLC

Beowulf Roar Rookie

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    Greg Florimo, CEO of the Central Coast Bears, has made a direct appeal to the rugby league community for assistance in bringing the question of expansion back to the table.

    Recent polls suggest that around 90% of fans want expansion. After 10 years of trying, the Bears at least deserve the right to present a bid submission.

    Edmund Burke, the prominent 18th Century Irish statesman said “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Do not allow evil to triumph. Do not do sit by and do nothing.”

    With New Zealand rights and digital contracts set to reap the ARLC an additional $200m or thereabouts, the game is looking at a net result of $1.25 billion.

    A great result which provides ample resources to secure existing clubs’ futures and massively increase grassroots support for junior and country rugby league.

    Channel Nine claim not to be prepared to pay more for an additional game – but should that preclude expansion? Not if any prospective bids can add net value to the competition.

    The acting CEO of the ARLC, Shane Mattiske, has stated that expansion is still possible if it can be proved a new entrant will not require additional funding and can strengthen grassroots involvement in the game.

    The Bears tick both boxes.

    The Rugby League Week poll released last month suggests 92% of fans want expansion, and of these, the Central Coast were overwhelmingly favoured by 46%, with Western Australia next on 29%.

    These were the two leading contenders. The rest failed to garner much support: Central Queensland 13%, Brisbane Bombers 5%, Wellington 3%, Papua New Guinea 2% and Ipswich 2%.

    Just as importantly, the favourite ground of fans to watch the game is Bluetongue (26%) ahead of Suncorp (21%), with no other venue over 10%.

    This poll followed the News Limited poll a week prior which found WA and Central Coast neck and neck as overwhelming favourites for expansion.

    These results aren’t an anomaly – they have been consistently repeated year after year, and every year Bluetongue fills to or near capacity to watch whatever scraps are thrown the Central Coast’s way.

    Back to the ARLC’s newly stated position on expansion. In substance, this is nothing new.

    John Quayle mentioned the key criteria months ago – an existing stadium, low costs, finance, demonstrated corporate and fan support.

    After examining the Bears bid he said it’s a no brainer. He argued that they should be in, and put in urgently or the game would lose its player nursery on the Coast.

    This is already starting to happen, with junior numbers down on the Coast. There can be no expansion to non-heartland areas if we can’t secure the player talent that will be fielded by any new teams.

    The lowest cost model is obviously the CC Bears, as the infrastructure is in place, there is over 100 years experience in running a major league football club, and costs for the majority of visiting teams are minimal.

    The only other low cost model (though not as low as the CC) would be a Suncorp based side. As for Quayle’s other criteria, the Bears are fully funded, obviously have a dedicated existing support base and are fully booked by significant corporate sponsors upon license grant.

    With John Singleton potentially losing interest in rugby league, the Bears can buy the rights to the stadium they built, lock out prospective competitors and become a true community model – importantly, they own the playing rights at the stadium for the rest of the decade.

    When looking at grassroots football (the other criteria stated by the ARLC) all three of Central Coast, western corridor and Central Queensland would achieve that mission admirably.

    Though it would be desirable to add an extra game, to expand the League doesn’t need two teams entered simultaneously. The idea of staggering entry a la the AFL has enormous merit, particularly as the strongest of the bids on the newly stated criteria (the Bears) is ready to go now.

    This would allow the ARLC to assist a less prepared entrant for 2016 entry.

    Having two additional sides operating successfully at low cost before negotiations commence for the next TV deal would automatically increase the size of the subsequent outcome.

    Also, adding the Bears now allows the Commission to make a healing and unifying statement that truly ends the Super League War.

    With Cronulla’s position now apparently secure, calls for a relocation to the Coast are silenced.

    All but the most naive acknowledge there can never be a stand-alone Central Coast side due to the lack of a corporate base on the Coast – the Bears bring not only their supporters, but the third largest corporate region in Australia behind Sydney CBD and Melbourne to the table.

    For the Coast, it’s the Bears or nothing. As per Illawarra, to have a presence they need a linkage with a traditional supply route.

    John Grant says the game is about the fans. The fans are the customers. The customers demand that expansion is back on the table.

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    The Crowd Says (163)

    • September 12th 2012 @ 12:38pm
      turbodewd said | September 12th 2012 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

      You dont determine expansion choices by fan polls, you do it by the numbers, i.e the dollars.

      Expansion is all about converting new hearts, mind and wallets to an NRL team. A team which will attract new viewers, juniors and crowds.

      NSW/ACT already has 11 teams – to add yet another (CC Bears) so close to Sydney would be absurd. The AFL would sigh with relief.

      Qld, WA and NZ must all come before another NSW team.

      • September 12th 2012 @ 12:54pm
        Beowulf said | September 12th 2012 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

        All the points you raise are the reasons the Bears should be included – or at least ahve the chance to present their bid. The mantra ‘there are too many teams in NSW’ is absurd. If a product can add value then there’s no limit. Look what happened to the highly congested inner Sydney area when Souths were readmitted against the Roosters wishes……crowds went up, memberships went up, merchandise sales went up…for the Roosters! Rivalries are what drives the game in NSW, and a Foundation Club that has pre-built rivalries with Manly and Newcastle can only be positive.

        Guess what – FTA and Fox viewership is below East Coast averages on not only the north shore but Central COast, and they are down on what they were before the Bears were kicked out. Gallop himself said over 40,000 fans were lost when the Bears were punted – add them and their kids and you have instant growth, not manufactured franchises with no natural development.

        • September 12th 2012 @ 1:04pm
          turbodewd said | September 12th 2012 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

          Beowulf, you are passionate about your cause. Perhaps you can reveal where you live and your relationship to this matter. Im just some punter from Canberra who wants to see the NRL product brought to NEW markets. Its a good product and with a bit of solid marketing you can gain new hearts and minds.

          In 2010 I became a fan out of nowhere of the UFC so people can adopt new sports.

          Now the AFL have the brains, bravery and dollars to plonk 2 new teams deep in NRL territory with 20-year plans. Should we respond by putting one in our own backyard? Seems like a weak response.

          • September 12th 2012 @ 2:11pm
            Beowulf said | September 12th 2012 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

            Sure, Q.1 I’m involved with a junior League team on the lower north shore and volunteer for the Central Coast Bears.

            Q.2 Build forts in your own territory to secure your territory before crusading in enemy territory is the thinking….

          • September 12th 2012 @ 7:39pm
            mick h said | September 12th 2012 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

            no turbodewd with regards to the afl they have turned their backs on western sydney with the gws giants playing 3 games a year in canberra people will not commit. they are also abandoning blacktown as a training centre.

            in the nrl me must expand to the central coast and perth.

      • September 12th 2012 @ 1:03pm
        B.A Sports said | September 12th 2012 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

        Agree. You could do a poll of those polled to find out how many of them consider the NRL Footy Show to be high quality entertainment, and when 85% say it is great, you realise you have polled a bunch a people with not much of a clue.

        As for John Quayle

        “John Quayle mentioned the key criteria months ago – an existing stadium, low costs, finance, demonstrated corporate and fan support” – Interesting that he didn’t consider “first grade players” as an important criteria to fill an expansion first grade team… but then, this is the guy who previously expanded the league beyond its means….

        • September 12th 2012 @ 1:07pm
          turbodewd said | September 12th 2012 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

          Good point. Quayle and Ken Arthurson expanded the league to an absurd 20 teams by 1995 and left the league ripe for News Ltd to easily come in and almost take the whole thing over. News won, but there were many casualties.

          I mean is this the NRL or the NswRL???

      • September 12th 2012 @ 2:12pm
        Col Quinn said | September 12th 2012 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

        No! The AFL will sigh in relief if the ARLC does not put a team in the Central Coast, which has a population of nearly 300,000. It is a growth region in NSW. If the ARLC does not put a team there, it is an open invitation to the AFL. Australia’s population hugs the east coast. Approximately 1 in 4 Australians live between Batemans Bay and the Queensland border. This is why the AFL is targeting NSW. When you add in the Queensland Coast, approximately 1 in 2 Australians live from Batemans Bay to Cairns. The ARLC must, as a matter of urgency, tie down the Central Coast and Perth, then Central Queensland with a second Victorian team, based around Bendigo. After having secured teams in Central Coast and Perth 2013/2014 and Central Queensland and Bendigo 2014/2015, the ARLC should target Wellington (NZ) and even perhaps a South African franchise. First tie down where most of Australia lives, the east coast.

        • September 12th 2012 @ 8:26pm
          Rob9 said | September 12th 2012 @ 8:26pm | ! Report

          Is that a typo or did you say an expansion team in Bendigo in 2 to 3 years time?

          • September 12th 2012 @ 10:10pm
            Col Quinn said | September 12th 2012 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

            you bet, target population areas

            • September 13th 2012 @ 5:58am
              Rob9 said | September 13th 2012 @ 5:58am | ! Report

              100,000 people in an AFL dominant area where RL doesn’t get a look in. It’s not as simple as putting teams where people are. The Storm have got Victoria covered for the foreseeable future.

              • September 13th 2012 @ 7:38am
                Col Quinn said | September 13th 2012 @ 7:38am | ! Report

                G’day Rob9,
                Surprisingly there was a RL comp in this region of Victoria up to the late 1960s. It was a victim of the VFL/VFA war, when the VFL started to take over the code and then call itself the AFL. With the AFL now concentrating on other states it appears to have taken its eye of the ball in Victoria. Some Victorian competitions are struggling for funds. A well funded move into central or northern Victoria could be interesting.

              • September 13th 2012 @ 8:35am
                JZ said | September 13th 2012 @ 8:35am | ! Report

                perth is a no brainer 1.5 million people and a strong junior league presents, we suport games played over here even when its not our team. Wa will be next for a team

              • September 13th 2012 @ 6:47pm
                Rob9 said | September 13th 2012 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

                Hi Col. I still don’t think this justifies Bendigo as an NRL expansion area. Certainly not within the 2 to 3 years. Expansion policy needs to follow the key rule of putting teams where a large number of people that want one are located. Not just putting teams where people are. There are almost 2 million people in Perth and although it’s an AFL heartland, there’s clearly a percentage of that large population that would support an NRL team to make expansion there worthwhile. 100,000 is about 18 times smaller than the population of Perth and I’d guess that the percentage of RL fans in Bendigo would be smaller than a place like Perth where a large east coast expat population exists. The immediate expansion areas that should be on the ARLC’s radar include Perth, Brisbane 2, Gosford and Wollongong (fulltime team). In the longer term they should look at Adelaide, Rockhampton, the Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Coffs Harbour and Mackay. For mine, Bendigo would be decades away if ever. In fact I’d suggest other non-heartland areas such as Darwin and Geelong before Bendigo. There’s just nothing about that area that screams ‘put an NRL team here’ and I believe any attempt to do so would result in throwing money at a black hole.

        • September 13th 2012 @ 9:07am
          Col Quinn said | September 13th 2012 @ 9:07am | ! Report

          JZ, agree Central Coast and Perth in 2013/14

          Col

          • September 13th 2012 @ 7:43pm
            JZ said | September 13th 2012 @ 7:43pm | ! Report

            i never said central coast, i said it was never going to happen the bears were gone.

      • September 14th 2012 @ 12:55am
        81paling said | September 14th 2012 @ 12:55am | ! Report

        18,000 fans on average per NRL game, 8,000 financial members (x $20 min for a team that does not exist = $160K) 2 x stadiums that have 20,000 + crowd capacity, 7000 juniors in the area, 95 members who have so far contributed over $5500 each i.e more than half a million dollars total and the Central Coast Leaugue’s plus North Sydney League’s behind them each earning a post operating profit of on average $7m per club. These r the numbers and therefore there r no problems.

        • September 14th 2012 @ 5:13am
          Old Hand said | September 14th 2012 @ 5:13am | ! Report

          Apostrophe Man strikes again – League’s?????

        • September 14th 2012 @ 5:14am
          Old Hand said | September 14th 2012 @ 5:14am | ! Report

          Apostrophe Man strikes again – League’s?

    • September 12th 2012 @ 12:42pm
      Hamish said | September 12th 2012 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

      A News Ltd poll says no competitor to the News Ltd owned Broncos. Who would have thought??
      Who is going to subsidise the Storm when News Ltd stops and the big three retire??

      • September 12th 2012 @ 2:07pm
        Beowulf said | September 12th 2012 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

        All polls in whatever format, whatever media proprietor have the same results over 5 years. The Bears have the popular support – not sure how even our opponents could deny that.

        • September 13th 2012 @ 10:34am
          Renegade said | September 13th 2012 @ 10:34am | ! Report

          Sorry mate,

          The fact that bluetongue was named the best ground to watch league at when probably less 1% of league fans have actually watched a game there makes it pretty dodgy….

          I have a funny feeling that the CC Bid team might have asked for all bears members to heavily influence the online poll you quoted.

          Just have a look at the responses on the roar…..just about everyone says Perth is the best option.

          • September 13th 2012 @ 8:13pm
            Beowulf said | September 13th 2012 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

            I have no doubt you’re right that the BEars supporters got on and voted, as they ahve for every other poll. the sample was 22,000 for the Telegraph poll and unsure re RLW, but its normally 4-5,000. Surely sufficent sample sizes to remove much bias, though I’m sure we skewed the data a bit!

            But isn’t a passionate and committed supporter base exactly what the ARLC should be looking for? Do they want to disengage these people?

    • September 12th 2012 @ 12:51pm
      stanza said | September 12th 2012 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

      Always felt bad about the plight of the Bears. Can anyone enlighten me on when the Northern Eagles were wound down, how was it that the team reverted to Manly and not Norths?

      • September 17th 2012 @ 10:20am
        Burgo87 MWSE said | September 17th 2012 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        In 2002 the team was still the Northern Eagles but internally the North Sydney Bears board members had pulled out and half way through the season they stopped playing home games in Gosford (as a result of a sharp decline in crowd attendances). Max Delmege’s cash injection saved the Northern Eagles from insolvency but with the intention of reverting back to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles name and colours for the 2003 NRL season.

        The North Sydney Bears wanted to become the Central Coast Bears for the 2003 NRL season but the NRL told them that they would prefer to keep the Central Coast open for an existing Sydney team to relocate to (particularly the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks or the returning South Sydney Rabbitohs, the latter came very close then Russel Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court saved them in 2006).

        • September 17th 2012 @ 5:11pm
          Bring Back the Bears said | September 17th 2012 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

          Thanks Burgo, I could never find a straight answer as to how and why the Bears disappeared completely after the merger. This makes sense. I just can’t believe a bigger deal wasn’t made of it at the time.

    • September 12th 2012 @ 12:52pm
      turbodewd said | September 12th 2012 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

      I think Greg Florimo should actually try to make the Brisbane Bears a reality and use the Norths-owned Seagulls club as a homebase. They can represent south Brisbane. This team would have fans when they visit Sydney. Its a good combination.

      Today NSW/ACT has 1 NRL team per 700,000 residents

      Qld has 1 NRL team per 1.5 million residents
      NZ has one NRL team to cover 4.5 million people
      Perth has 1.7 million people and no team.

      Blue Tongue Stadium, as the crow flies, is closer to, say, Brookvale Oval than Penrith or Campbelltown. A team in Gosford is virtually another Sydney team.

      • September 12th 2012 @ 12:58pm
        Beowulf said | September 12th 2012 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

        The ARLC has three options with the Bears – admit them, extinct them or encourage a ‘relocation’ a la Sydney Swans….only if they were told you will be extinct obviously would the concept of a rebadged interstate Bears be even looked at – its a distraction only until the ARLC make a strategic decision on direction.

        • September 17th 2012 @ 10:36am
          Bring Back the Bears said | September 17th 2012 @ 10:36am | ! Report

          Unfortunately Beowulf, while I wouldn’t be opposed to the Bears relocating again, I can’t see this happening. If the ARLC announce that NSW is a no go in terms of expansion then all the work the CCBears put in to the bid would be undone. And while Greg Florimo has been unwavering in trying to get the Bears readmitted, I’m sure starting that process again would be pretty daunting.
          The only possible way I can see that working is if the Bears align themselves with another bid e.g. Brisbane, Western Corridor, Perth or Central QLD. But by the time the ARLC make up their mind, there is also the issue of the other bids being too far down the track to want to rebadge themselves.

      • September 12th 2012 @ 2:42pm
        JZ said | September 12th 2012 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

        seagulls is on the border of Qld-Nsw. how could they represent south Brisbane when their home ground is 35 minuets south of the gold coast home ground

        • September 17th 2012 @ 9:55am
          Bring Back the Bears said | September 17th 2012 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          He’s talking about the Wynnum-Manly Seagulls, not the Tweed Heads seagulls.

      • September 12th 2012 @ 4:43pm
        Col Quinn said | September 12th 2012 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

        turbodewd,
        Do you come from Sydney? In Sydney we travel dont travel by crows. Trains, buses and cars are the normal option. The Central Coast is not part of Sydney. The travel time to the Central Coast is around an hour as it is nearly 79 kms from Sydney. It is another geographic region that the ARLC needs to own.

        • Roar Guru

          September 12th 2012 @ 10:02pm
          turbodewd said | September 12th 2012 @ 10:02pm | ! Report

          In Sydney you think NRL = NswRL. Blinkered.

    • September 12th 2012 @ 1:02pm
      Calcio said | September 12th 2012 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

      Perth and the Bears are the obvious choices and have been for a decade.

      Anything else will be a mistake for league.

      • September 12th 2012 @ 2:58pm
        JZ said | September 12th 2012 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

        Perth is a big yes every one in League know’s this BUT ! really the bears ?
        Come on evey one the Bears are done and dusted
        Question why where the Bear kick out the comp ?
        Answer- There are three main reasons, for one it was the lack of Support all of their fans gave in the time of need such as bums on seats. secondly the pour facility and state of the ground it was going down hill fast because of the lack of cash and no one really cared at the time not untill it was too late.
        So shame on you it is all the bears fans that caused their demise, and before i get a new one ripped for my troubles i am a bears fan but im also a realest.
        what happened to the brisbane teams in the Qld comp when the broncos turned up GONE ! their have been team in newcastle long before the knights were their but now GONE ! . the bears should be in the NSW cup thats it .
        so let the hating begin

        Hey while were at it lets bring back the Newtown Jets

        • September 12th 2012 @ 10:51pm
          Beowulf said | September 12th 2012 @ 10:51pm | ! Report

          Your missing a few points!

          1. The Bear were guaranteed survival by Arthurson who assured them their position was guaranteed if they stayed loyal in the Super League War, when everyone could see that as soon as Manly stayed, the Bears should have gone Super League. They stayed out of loyalty.
          2. The Bears were guaranteed survival if they relcoated to Central Coast. A rich club, they spent their dough on that assurance by building the stadium at Gosford. That guarantee was also reneged on.
          3. The Bears were told after the Norhtern Eagles fiasco they’d be in next…again, reneged on.

          The Bears are financially stronger now than they were back then, in fact they’re stronger than most NRL Clubs, unlike all those clubs you mention who have gone…and those clubs didn’t face the disgraces mentioned above. Proves we are resilient and determined to right a wrong.

          This is why Flo is calling on all people who feel the Bears were treated unfairly to sign the petition http://www.change.org/petitions/arl-commission-bring-back-the-bears-2
          they deserve at least the chance to state their case. If thats rejected, so be it. But if they don’t even let the Bears present their bid, then the game can go to hell.

    • September 12th 2012 @ 1:07pm
      The Greatest Game Of All said | September 12th 2012 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

      Sorry but no more NSW teams, Perth first and foremost.

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