Perth bid team urges earlier expansion - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Perth bid team urges earlier expansion

Justin Chadwick 22/06/2011 07:49:27 PM Comments (0)

The man behind Perth's bid for an NRL team fears the league could lose some momentum if expansion was delayed until 2015.

Expansion from 16 to 18 teams was initially expected to coincide with the next TV rights deal, which begins in 2013.

But NRL chief executive David Gallop last week flagged the prospect of the NRL waiting until 2015 before expanding further, allowing existing clubs more time to stabilise themselves financially.

Western Australia Rugby League chief executive John Sackson said he understood Gallop's concerns but believed a 2013 entry for a Perth-based team would strengthen the competition.

"I just feel that 2015 is just that little bit too far away," Sackson told AAP on Wednesday.

"Rugby league has momentum here now. I think we've got a lot more media, community and corporate interest in the game.

"If rugby league is genuine about its intention to grow and develop nationally then strategically it just makes sense to come to Perth.

"It's fertile ground. In the days of the Reds we had crowds as high as 25,000 and average crowds over a season of 16,500.

"There are NRL clubs in Sydney that would kill to have that sort of average crowd. We believe it's achievable.

"There's a lot more expatriate eastern staters living here now than there was back then.

"Having said that, at the end of the day we want an NRL team playing in Perth, and if the governing body felt 2015 was the year for expansion, then if we won the right we would embrace it."

Perth, Brisbane, Ipswich in Queensland, the NSW Central Coast, Central Queensland, Papua New Guinea and Wellington have expressed an interest in joining the NRL from 2013.

But any decision on expansion won't be made until the independent commission is formed later this year.

Sackson said the Perth bid team would continue to work on a 2013 entry.

"We will continue our focus on 2013 until someone tells us it's not going to be 2013," Sackson said.

"But clearly as time ticks over, the longer this goes, the longer it will eat into the 18 months (preparation a team would need).

"David Gallop has always been consistent saying any new franchise would need 18 months from acceptance to kick-off.

"The more that time erodes, the greater the risk of a less than perfect launch if you were a successful franchise."

Perth fans will get a taste of NRL action on Friday night when South Sydney play host to Brisbane at nib Stadium.

Sackson was confident a crowd in excess of 15,000 would attend the match, sending a powerful message to the NRL.

"With people voting with their feet to come out and see NRL, it would be a terrific endorsement for our bid," Sackson said.

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