NRL hopefuls cry foul

Main Stories, Sports

The National – Wednesday, June 22, 2011

SYDNEY: THE seven bid teams vying for the two extra licences to join the NRL said the code needs to put five franchises out of their misery.
While the NRL has not decided when it will expand from 16 to18 teams, bidders said they should be told if they had no hope.
The seven are Brisbane, Central Queensland-based in Rockhampton, Ipswich, PNG-based in Port Moresby, NSW Central Coast-based in Gosford, Perth and New Zealand capital Wellington.
The front-runners are Brisbane and Ipswich, from Queensland’s populous southeast Queensland corridor, and Perth, which would give the NRL a more national feel and a team in a later TV time slot.
“Is it fair on all the bidders out there? Not so much us because we only came on the market six months ago but the Central Coast in particular who’ve spent lots of money going around year after year,” Brisbane bid leader Craig Davison said.
“Put aside the argument of whether it’s going to be 2013, ’14 or ’15, how about they go to the marketplace and actually make the decision.
“They’ve said they’re going to have more teams so at least that’s one decision out of the way.
“So let’s know who those teams are and then they can tell us later what the year of entry is.
“I think you’ve got to put out of misery all those teams who aren’t going to get it.
“There’s a lot of money being spent by a lot of people so the NRL, and independent commission, should be very mindful of that.”
Davison was responding to the comments of NRL boss David Gallop on ABC Radio where he said an 18-team competition from 2015 was his preference. “It might come earlier but we should be giving our existing clubs a couple of years with the new television money to get themselves stable before we introduce new teams into the competition,” Gallop said.
Ipswich bid chairman Steven Johnson said he understood NRL clubs would want to see what money the new television deal was worth.
“And that’s commendable,” Johnson said yesterday.
“Our view is that it’s something beyond our control.
“If there’s an expansion, we’re going to be their (NRL) guests so it’s not up to us to be critical of the timing.”
He pointed out the Ipswich bid was more advanced than others as it already boasted an existing football structure — including a stadium and training facilities — through the Ipswich Queensland Cup club.
“So we could start a side tomorrow and start signing players,” Johnson said.
“For others without that it’s a big ask to maintain that community interest and spending that amount of money on staff.
“That would be money wasted as it takes a fair bit to keep bids alive for that amount of time.”
The NSW Central Coast bid, headed by Greg Florimo, felt Gallop’s statement was another kick in the head as he had been trying for seven years to get the Central Coast Bears (relocated North Sydney Bears) into the NRL.
But he reminded everyone it was only Gallop’s personal view.
“Look, I’m not going to enter into the debate, simply because the independent commission has the final say.
“They are the body which makes the decision,” Florimo said.
“David obviously will have a recommendation and a point of view.
“But until the commission forms, sits down and makes some solid statements on expansion I’m not going to waste any energy on it.”
He did back Davison’s call for two bid teams to be given the green light immediately.
“We are definitely in need of some direction.
“We’ve got close to 7000 members who have invested money, not to mention our sponsors and our fans and what they’ve put in,” Florimo said.
“So we are desperate for someone to make a statement of intent, because we are reaching a point that if 2013 is realistic then we need a decision real soon.”
The second Brisbane team is due to announce its name, logo and stadium next month. – The Australian