NEWS ARTICLE

The Great Expansion Debate


Thursday July 14, 2011
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KEYTO’S NRL HITS (and misses) – It seems a sure thing the NRL will increase by at least two sides at some stage in the next five years. The new Brisbane bid is the latest in the news with their claims as to why they must be given one of the licenses.

I live in Brisbane but am probably in the minority by stating I think there are better options to expand towards a ‘National’ rugby league competition. Without getting too deep with a corporate or demographic debate, I’m going to rate the contenders in order from an NRL fans’ perspective.

WA is a MUST!!

The Western Australian time zone is the biggest asset any Western bid has over their rivals and I think could almost be enough on its own to win. The two hour difference allows broadcasters to beam matches back live to the east coast – often after a live match already. This is great for advertising, sponsorship and for those fans who like to watch live NRL.

Plus you can throw in the bumper crowd last month in awful conditions, a decent stadium and strong fan support.

It’s a no-brainer for mine; Western Australia wins the first slot.

Central Queensland

I would be fascinated to see a team based out of Rockhampton or somewhere in that region. There is huge fan support in a large, vacant area between the Broncos and Cowboys catchment. The Queensland Government would need to get on board and there might be some financial challenges – but this is an option worth exploring.

Brisbane

The city is big enough and rugby league’s popular enough to sustain a second NRL side. The South Queensland Crushers were popular back in their day and if someone came in and worked the same way as the Titans, another team here could work.

But there is already one major side in Brisbane plus the Titans just down the road – only about 90 minutes tops from the CBD.

If we’re looking to expand the competition in south-east Queensland I would prefer to see a second ‘Brisbane’ team based out in the western suburbs. Somewhere in the Logan or Ipswich area would be good – that is (very) roughly halfway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

The Sunshine Coast is another possible option if the fan support and corporate dollar is favourable.

However any side in Ipswich, Logan or the Sunshine Coast would still likely be based at Suncorp Stadium because no government could really justify building or upgrading a new stadium.

Central Coast Bears

The biggest drawback for the Central Coast is their location – New South Wales. I don’t know the area but if the Bears come in, they will effectively become another Sydney team. That’s how everyone outside the state sees Newcastle and Penrith, by the way.

I understand there is huge fan support for a club and they will have the corporate backing, but for true expansion there is only one way I could fully justify a Central Coast team ahead of any others.

The best chance the Bears have is for a current Sydney team to fold or fully relocate to the Coast, and I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Wellington

The Warriors are great for the NRL but we don’t need a second team in New Zealand at this time. If they want more games in New Zealand then a deal will need to be struck with some of the current sides.

I’m not saying we’ll never have a side in Wellington, but there are other regions in Australia who need a team more at this stage.

PNG

If it was up to me I would have an NRL side in Papua New Guinea straight away. A PNG side would create a whole new dimension to the competition in terms of on-field play and fanatical fan support.

However, it’s just simply not a feasible option.

PNG would struggle to attract quality players, provide high quality facilities and favourable TV deals. Plus of course there are the challenges with sponsorship and corporate backing.

A Queensland Cup side is a more viable option for PNG but even that seems a long way off.

Adelaide

Sorry Adelaide, we tried it once and never again. Saturday night’s poultry 9,900 crowd for the Bulldogs vs. Storm game at Adelaide Oval was the final nail in, let’s face it, a very old coffin.

Apart from those diehard fans I doubt we could find too many people seriously interested in an Adelaide side above any of the other contenders.

TIPPING

Tips – Warriors, Broncos, Souths, Tigers, Penrith, Melbourne, Manly, Dragons Last Week – 4/7
Total –77/128 (60%)

There’s a heap of teams with huge matches coming up in the next month so make sure you get out and support your side! Or get out and tell everyone why your region needs a side! You can chat to me on email (andrew.keyte@gmail.com), Twitter (@keyto316) or comment below.

Have a great week,
Keyto