There certainly deserves to be an air of cautious optimism around Belmore as preparations begin for the 2023 season – and it's turning into a big windfall for the club.
After years of languishing near the foot of the ladder, recent developments have got the club moving in more ways than one. The arrivals of Cameron Ciraldo, Reed Mahoney and Viliame Kikau have increased the confidence of fans, and it's paying off in spades.
The Daily Telegraph has obtained records showing that the bright outlook is increasing consumer confidence, with sponsorships up 60 per cent year on year, merchandise sales increased by 100 per cent, and memberships also up 70 per cent.
According to club chief executive Aaron Warburton, the sales are comparable to the last time the Bulldogs made the grand final – and that's before the new jersey is released.
“Retail sales have far exceeded budgets set out for 2022,” Warburton told the Telegraph.
“All apparel positions are firmed up, with the average jersey sponsorship term sitting at three years.”
The club has also seen a boost to its standing in broadcast terms, with a 40 per cent increase in free-to-air games also slated for 2023.
“Outside of player development, we're also taking great strides towards sustainable success for the Bulldogs Rugby League Club,” Warburton continued.
“For the 2023 season, our team are set to wear a powerful new design for our home and away jerseys – a design that will be launched in the coming days which is expected to break all records.
“The Laundy Hotel Group have shown great support in the future direction of the Bulldogs by signing on to a new five-year sponsorship agreement to match the length of Cameron Ciraldo's coaching contract.
“We are fortunate to have a commercially strong draw for the upcoming season. We have 40 per cent more free-to-air viewership for 2023 for our at-home members and fans.
“Playing mostly Saturday and Sunday afternoons means more families will be able to come along and support their favourite player at convenient times.”
As well as the commercial success, the club is winning in terms of culture as well, with a number of club legends coming on board to take up official positions.
“Last year we saw the return of our NSW Cup team… in 2023 we'll see the return of a side to play in the women's competition.
“As a club, we are in a really positive and stable position leading in to 2023.”