live Infotainment Factory: Gus hammers NRL over expansion mess

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Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Gus hammers NRL over expansion mess


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Phil Gould has scoffed at the idea of a Sydney club being relocated to Brisbane and accused the NRL of being woefully ill-prepared for a genuine attempt at expansion.

Channel Nine director of sport Tom Malone flagged the network's interest in having a second team in Brisbane by the first season of a new broadcast rights deal in 2023.

He said that a team might be relocated or discontinued to enable that to happen. The Daily Telegraph subsequently named Manly, Cronulla and Gold Coast as endangered clubs.

Gould said that the relocation of a Sydney team to Brisbane would not work, and that Nine and Fox Sports had merely told the NRL a second club in the Queensland capital would make rugby league more valuable as a broadcast product.

"A Sydney team dropping off? Won't happen," Gould said on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast, speaking with James Bracey.

"The Sydney teams are the strength of the competition. Go and ask the regional teams.

"We start losing Sydney brands, we lose what we've got. We lose our greatest assets, we really do."

Gould has offered a long-term blueprint for the NRL that would see an 18-team competition split into two nine-team conferences: Sydney and regional. It could include a second Brisbane club plus a team in Perth, or another New Zealand side.

Gould said that plan was a 10-15 year project and that currently, the NRL was highly unlikely to expand its footprint with a new club.

"Where are they going to get it from? They've either got to put a 17th team in, which is mathematically impossible; it creates all sorts of problems. Or, they've got to relocate a team," Gould said.

"I don't think you can relocate a team. You're certainly not going to relocate a Sydney team. Titans is the cheap excuse; they're going so badly, just shove them into Brisbane.

"Why can't we get something to work on the Gold Coast? Why can't we get something to work in Northern NSW and across that area, because it's such a fast-growing area, it really is.

"They just haven't set the club up properly the first time and they got nothing for it."

The Titans are the NRL's newest club, playing their inaugural season in 2007. They have made the finals just twice and will finish last this year, during which their average crowd figure has shrunk for the third consecutive season.

Gould said that the AFL had put the NRL to shame with its efforts to establish new clubs, especially with the GWS Giants. He said that rugby league had "wasted hundreds of millions of dollars" in the meantime.

"When you think about GWS in the AFL and the way the AFL have expanded their game, all their money and all their new broadcast income and all the billions of dollars that they're making have been poured in to expanding the footprint of the game and making clubs viable and making clubs competitive ans sustaining them," Gould said.

"When GWS came into Sydney, they spent - and are spending - $120 million more than the broadcast rights they're giving to any other club, because, 'We want this to work'. They gave them first-round draft picks. They made them strong and competitive overnight.

"GWS will win a flag in the next four or five years and when they do, that's when their history starts. Forget about what's happening now, they've got a 30-year plan for GWS.

"With the NRL, the NRL's financially stressed. We have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars, wasted hundreds of millions of dollars, over the last two, three broadcast rights deals. Wasted it.

"Now, if we wanted to offer an incentive for a club to relocate or to put a club in a new area, then they've got no money to offer as incentive. They've got nothing to sustain it, they can't give it ongoing financial and promotional support. They can't give it the funding to keep in competitive.

"The other part of this is that the 16 clubs currently are stakeholders in the game. They're part of the commission; they get a vote on all this sort of stuff. And if you said to them, 'Look, we're going to bring Perth in and you know what? Instead of giving all the clubs $13.5 million, you're all going to get $11 million and we're going to give $25 million a year to Perth to make sure it's competitive'.

"What do you think the other clubs will do? No chance in the world, because the majority of the decisions made in our game are made out of self-interest.

"It's agenda-driven - same as the reporting on this week's relocation debate in agenda-driven."

Gould said that the NRL was putting its future at risk by failing to plan ahead. He recalled telling former ARL Commission chairman John Grant eight years ago that if Penrith and Parramatta were left to fend for themselves in Western Sydney against GWS, his grandchildren would grow up playing AFL.

"Rugby league at the moment is on the edge of a cliff, it really is. They just don't realise it, and they haven't realised it for a number of years," Gould said.

"We keep giving them the warning signs. The corporates keep giving them the warning signs. But no one's listening, no one's actually being proactive in trying to do anything about it.

"Just throwing a conversation out in the media, to run it up a flag and see what the public have to say about it, is not policy making.

"The whole debate, I think, is superfluous. I think it's got way too much air and oxygen this week, because I just don't think the NRL are in a position to talk about it. They're not.

"Maybe it's pushed out there to get the referees off the back page, or to cover up for some sort of issue in the game. It tends to rear its ugly head a couple of times a year at a convenient time; or, it's just a slow week."

Gould pointed out that Brisbane had once had a viable second rugby league club: the South Queensland Crushers, who were an ARL team during the Super League war.

The club was folded by News Corp as the game reunited for the 1998 season. News Corp owns the Brisbane Broncos, plus The Daily Telegraph and Fox Sports.

Phil Gould has scoffed at the idea of a Sydney club being relocated to Brisbane and accused the NRL of being woefully ill-prepared for a genuine attempt at expansion.

Channel Nine director of sport Tom Malone flagged the network's interest in having a second team in Brisbane by the first season of a new broadcast rights deal in 2023.

He said that a team might be relocated or discontinued to enable that to happen. The Daily Telegraph subsequently named Manly, Cronulla and Gold Coast as endangered clubs.

Gould said that the relocation of a Sydney team to Brisbane would not work, and that Nine and Fox Sports had merely told the NRL a second club in the Queensland capital would make rugby league more valuable as a broadcast product.

"A Sydney team dropping off? Won't happen," Gould said on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast, speaking with James Bracey.

"The Sydney teams are the strength of the competition. Go and ask the regional teams.

"We start losing Sydney brands, we lose what we've got. We lose our greatest assets, we really do."

Gould has offered a long-term blueprint for the NRL that would see an 18-team competition split into two nine-team conferences: Sydney and regional. It could include a second Brisbane club plus a team in Perth, or another New Zealand side.

Gould said that plan was a 10-15 year project and that currently, the NRL was highly unlikely to expand its footprint with a new club.

"Where are they going to get it from? They've either got to put a 17th team in, which is mathematically impossible; it creates all sorts of problems. Or, they've got to relocate a team," Gould said.

"I don't think you can relocate a team. You're certainly not going to relocate a Sydney team. Titans is the cheap excuse; they're going so badly, just shove them into Brisbane.

"Why can't we get something to work on the Gold Coast? Why can't we get something to work in Northern NSW and across that area, because it's such a fast-growing area, it really is.

"They just haven't set the club up properly the first time and they got nothing for it."

The Titans are the NRL's newest club, playing their inaugural season in 2007. They have made the finals just twice and will finish last this year, during which their average crowd figure has shrunk for the third consecutive season.

Gould said that the AFL had put the NRL to shame with its efforts to establish new clubs, especially with the GWS Giants. He said that rugby league had "wasted hundreds of millions of dollars" in the meantime.

"When you think about GWS in the AFL and the way the AFL have expanded their game, all their money and all their new broadcast income and all the billions of dollars that they're making have been poured in to expanding the footprint of the game and making clubs viable and making clubs competitive ans sustaining them," Gould said.

"When GWS came into Sydney, they spent - and are spending - $120 million more than the broadcast rights they're giving to any other club, because, 'We want this to work'. They gave them first-round draft picks. They made them strong and competitive overnight.

"GWS will win a flag in the next four or five years and when they do, that's when their history starts. Forget about what's happening now, they've got a 30-year plan for GWS.

"With the NRL, the NRL's financially stressed. We have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars, wasted hundreds of millions of dollars, over the last two, three broadcast rights deals. Wasted it.

"Now, if we wanted to offer an incentive for a club to relocate or to put a club in a new area, then they've got no money to offer as incentive. They've got nothing to sustain it, they can't give it ongoing financial and promotional support. They can't give it the funding to keep in competitive.

"The other part of this is that the 16 clubs currently are stakeholders in the game. They're part of the commission; they get a vote on all this sort of stuff. And if you said to them, 'Look, we're going to bring Perth in and you know what? Instead of giving all the clubs $13.5 million, you're all going to get $11 million and we're going to give $25 million a year to Perth to make sure it's competitive'.

"What do you think the other clubs will do? No chance in the world, because the majority of the decisions made in our game are made out of self-interest.

"It's agenda-driven - same as the reporting on this week's relocation debate in agenda-driven."

Gould said that the NRL was putting its future at risk by failing to plan ahead. He recalled telling former ARL Commission chairman John Grant eight years ago that if Penrith and Parramatta were left to fend for themselves in Western Sydney against GWS, his grandchildren would grow up playing AFL.

"Rugby league at the moment is on the edge of a cliff, it really is. They just don't realise it, and they haven't realised it for a number of years," Gould said.

"We keep giving them the warning signs. The corporates keep giving them the warning signs. But no one's listening, no one's actually being proactive in trying to do anything about it.

"Just throwing a conversation out in the media, to run it up a flag and see what the public have to say about it, is not policy making.

"The whole debate, I think, is superfluous. I think it's got way too much air and oxygen this week, because I just don't think the NRL are in a position to talk about it. They're not.

"Maybe it's pushed out there to get the referees off the back page, or to cover up for some sort of issue in the game. It tends to rear its ugly head a couple of times a year at a convenient time; or, it's just a slow week."

Gould pointed out that Brisbane had once had a viable second rugby league club: the South Queensland Crushers, who were an ARL team during the Super League war.

The club was folded by News Corp as the game reunited for the 1998 season. News Corp owns the Brisbane Broncos, plus The Daily Telegraph and Fox Sports.

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