Central Coast Bears boss Greg Florimo has implored the NRL to show some “courage” by expanding for the 2013 season.
His call comes amid revelations prospective franchises have collectively spent more than $10 million in an effort to clinch an NRL licence.
The expansion debate hit overdrive during the week when NRL chief executive David Gallop conceded the code was unlikely to add new teams until 2015.
This would allow existing clubs to consolidate on the back of the game’s next broadcasting deal.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail, Gallop revealed Perth and a south-east Queensland team had emerged as frontrunners to join an 18-team competition, due largely to their corporate potential and the television audience they could attract.
But with the prospect of new teams possibly three years away, the seven consortia bidding for entry have called on the code’s powerbrokers to provide more clarity on expansion after forking out millions in the fierce battle for NRL licences.
An investigation by The Sunday Mail unearthed the significant level of spending involved just to formulate a bona fide NRL bid:
- The seven bid teams – Brisbane, Ipswich, Central Coast, Perth, Central Queensland, Papua New Guinea and NZ-based Wellington – have spent all up about $10.1 million
- The Bears, who first launched an NRL bid under John Singleton in 2004, have an annual payroll bill of at least $400,000
- Singleton, who owns the management rights to Gosford’s Bluetongue Stadium, loses $500,000 a season on a venue that is largely a white elephant
- Bid team bosses have relied on staff from their own personal businesses to reduce overheads
- An NRL bid document can cost more than $100,000 to put together
While the seven bid teams are prepared to bide their time, some are privately frustrated at the NRL’s perceived dithering on expansion and the running costs they are incurring.
In January, Gallop said the NRL would consider whether to seek tenders around the middle of this year, but that time frame has since elapsed as moves to create the independent commission drag on.