Titans boss sees hope for AFL team - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Titans boss sees hope for AFL team

By Laine Clark 22/04/2008 09:34:29 PM Comments (0)

A twist of fate has given Titans boss Michael Searle hope that a proposed Gold Coast AFL team won't follow the same path as the doomed Chargers.

A Gold Coast bid team officially applied for the AFL's 17th licence and were given six months to meet criteria spelled out by league boss Andrew Demetriou.

In a strange twist, the bid group is headed by lawyer John Witheriff who revealed he was once a member of the rescue team for the Gold Coast Chargers rugby league club.

The Chargers were killed off by 1999, a casualty of the Super League war.

NRL club Gold Coast Titans boss Searle has been a critic of the AFL in the past, calling them "arrogant" and "cannibals".

But Witheriff's involvement has initially eased Searle's concerns that a Gold Coast AFL team would suffer the same fate as the Chargers.

Searle said the Chargers experience should have taught Witheriff that an Aussie Rules team on the glitter strip had to be owned by Gold Coast interests - not the AFL.

"He'd be the most qualified person to understand why this AFL team should be controlled by the Gold Coast public," Searle told AAP.

"And that it is controlled by a consortium with strong links with the Gold Coast, not controlled by the AFL.

"The AFL on a whim can make a decision to terminate the license if it owns it - John would have seen that with the Chargers.

"We will support a Gold Coast team providing it is owned and controlled by the Gold Coast.

"If it is going to be controlled by the AFL then I think the Gold Coast community will be dubious."

But Demetriou said the gameplan was to establish a Gold Coast-controlled club on the tourist strip.

"Our desire is that this football club becomes a club owned solely and purely by the community of the Gold Coast," he said.

"That it has got Gold Coast appointed board members, it is an independent club that stands on its own two feet with a very strong net asset position.

"That it is a club that is around for many, many decades."

Meanwhile, Witheriff said another national sporting franchise on the Gold Coast would increase - not limit - corporate and spectator demand.

"One thing I can tell you is that if you put quality entertainment product together ... you actually increase demand," he said.

"What will happen on the Gold Coast is that we will see a situation where corporate entertaining attitudes change.

"The effect of a successful AFL team and successful NRL team will change the way business is done on the Gold Coast, and will have the effect of actually making their business more successful and our footy club more successful."

Searle was sceptical.

"It's a theory that the AFL and the NRL would both hope is true but I think maybe that might be a little ideological," he said.

"I don't subscribe to the theory that there is untapped and unrestrained resources - whether that is the case in corporate Gold Coast that is up to the AFL to prove."

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