WA Reds have received a unanimous endorsement from the 16 NRL clubs to join the competition in 2013.
The non-binding vote of confidence at a recent NRL conference in Byron Bay offers a massive injection of confidence as the West Australian Rugby League plans to present its bid in March or April.
WARL chief executive John Sackson says a new WA team, which would play out of nib Stadium, would have the corporate and crowd support to succeed long term, unlike the Western Reds franchise that operated at the WACA from 1995-97.
The NRL is likely to expand the competition to 18 teams in 2013 with Perth a leading contender, along with Rockhampton in Central Queensland, Logan or Ipswich south of Brisbane, and Gosford on the NSW Central Coast.
The WARL believes three key selling points, the $82.5 million State Government-backed redevelopment of the eastern grandstand at nib Stadium, WA’s booming economy and the WA TV time zone, will be key to the success of the bid.
“David Gallop (the NRL CEO) has already given the stadium a big tick, the players like coming here, the coaches like coming here,” WARL chief executive John Sackson said.
“We have a booming economy and the infrastructure that comes with a capital city such as Perth with its strong corporate support.
“We have a proud rugby league heritage. Look at the Western Reds, who played at the WACA which was not an ideal ground by any means to watch rugby league and they attracted average crowds of 16,500 per game.
“Perth is tailor made for games being televised back into the eastern states because of our time zone.
“To have the support of clubs, the CEOs and the chairmen of the existing clubs, for them to vote unanimously for Perth as a destination for expansion is a very positive statement.”
The WARL would need at least 18 months to build a team but is well on the way to building a $15 million annual budget to run an NRL franchise.
“Our plan is to present to the NRL’s new independent commission in March-April next year so in the meantime we will be proactive and build a sustainable, robust, irresistible business plan that hopefully gets us over the line.”
Meanwhile, David Hobbs has been elected chairman of the WARL board.
Hobbs, CEO of the Professionals Group WA & NT, is no stranger to setting up clubs.
He was with the Fremantle Dockers from inception, helping to set up its marketing and sponsorship arm. Hobbs replaces Terry Creasey who stepped down because of business commitments.
Buford Balony says: Just give them the licence now so they can actively start recruiting as they are the logical choice for one of the expansion teams.
The NRL would be crazy if they miss out on this chance to cement a presence in the West & the economic powerhouse of Australia and give the AFL something to think about.
There are so many “Eastern staters” living there now, you see as many NRL jumpers on people in the street as AFL jumpers, so hurry up & do it. It also has a much better chance of survival than AFL’s GWS expansion & Gold Coast which will ultimately be an extremely expensive flop.
I love how they are using Israel Folau as the poster boy for GWS. How stupid are they? People in NSW will never think of him as one of their own. He will always be a Qld’er who left for the money.