Expand or die, warns new league boss
NEW Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie has a simple message for the NRL: expand or die.
Beattie wasted little time putting expansion back on the table on his first day on the job on Wednesday after replacing outgoing chair John Grant at the ARLC AGM.
Crucial to his vision will be establishing a national footprint, with the NRL to seriously consider entering new territories for the first time since the end of the Super League war.
"The vision of the game is really simple; we have to expand,” Beattie said.
"We are in a very competitive environment for entertainment. You've got to be flexible and have a strategy.
"When you've got that level of competition you need to do that. The game needs to expand or it will die.”
The NRL hasn't added any teams to the competition since they brought the Gold Coast back in 2007, while the last real influx of new regions was between 1995 and 1998, namely Perth, Melbourne, Auckland and Adelaide.
Critically, Beattie insists no current teams will face relocation as part of his vision.
The news will come as a massive boost to Perth, Brisbane Bombers, Ipswich and numerous Pacific Island bids.
Beattie expects potential franchises will initially enter junior leagues and second-tier state cups, as Papua New Guinea already have in Queensland.
Western Australia NRL boss John Sackson revealed last month he had held discussions with the game's governing body about entering a team in the NRL under-20s in the coming years, with a reserve-grade outfit to follow.
Any new teams would then have the potential to enter the top-tier NRL from when the current broadcast deal ends in 2022.
"People have got the opportunity (to demonstrate) they've got the competence, the skills, the organisation ...This is a long-term objective,” Beattie said.
"If we signal to people there is a possibility of doing this as part of our vision they can prepare themselves; they can get ready.”
Meanwhile NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg insisted the 16 existing clubs wouldn't be hurt by expansion.
"Existing clubs will look to generate more value. By bringing teams in and making the game bigger and larger and more prosperous means value grows for everyone,” Greenberg said.
"Behind the scenes over the past six months we have been getting ourselves ready to have a new strategy for the game.
"(Part of that) will be about growing the footprint to ensure we can genuinely assess where expansion may go in the future.”