Ipswich NRL bid heartened by Gyngell expansion call
THE WESTERN Corridor NRL bid has been heartened by comments by Channel Nine boss David Gyngell about the need for another NRL side in Brisbane.
When, or if that occurs, is a moot point after Channel Nine yesterday secured a $925 million five-year free to air deal with the NRL.
There was no promise of expansion, with the NRL season to be completed in 25 rounds instead of 26 from 2018 until 2022.
But NRL CEO David Smith did leave the door open for a 17th team to be added during the terms of the new TV deal.
Gyngell told leading Sunday Mail league writer Peter Badel that he favoured an extra team in Brisbane.
"I can't see how there isn't room for another team in Brisbane," Gyngell said.
"Queensland is the heart and soul of rugby league as far as I'm concerned and it needs more product which helps broadcasting.
"Brisbane becomes the logical place (for expansion). If you are going to expand the game, expand it to the heartland where they are craving more.
"You only have to look at the ratings. I know Fox Sports would be the same, another team in Brisbane would give them more content and give us more content because when the Broncos play in Queensland we get twice the ratings than when Sydney teams play."
Smith did not discount the fact that an extra side could be factored in from 2018.
"This deal assumes 16 teams. There have been discussions about whether we introduce a 17th team and there is scope to do that in this contract," he said.
"This deal is about a 16 team competition, but there have been conversations and we have built flexibility in."
Gyngell told Badel that he admired the passion of Western Corridor bid chairman Steve Johnson and Brisbane Bombers boss Craig Davison. At this stage the 'battle for Brisbane' looks set to be between the Bombers and the Ipswich-based bid.
Johnson said Gyngell had a whole of game perspective aside from his natural interests as a broadcaster.
"David Gyngell and Fox, as broadcasters, want to see another team in south-east Queensland and particularly at Suncorp Stadium because it guarantees a big blockbuster crowd and the theatre of the game that they want,' Johnson said.
"But when you look at all levels of player welfare it defies logic that we have over 40% of the players but only three NRL sides in Queensland. That means our boys have to leave home at a young age to follow their dreams.
"The NRL says player welfare is paramount, and we take them at their word on that, but that demands another side in south-east Queensland.
"David has a real passion for rugby league and a real connection to the area up here.
"His wife Leila is from up here and David has paid a lot of interest to rugby league in south-east Queensland.
"As a student of the game he has seen the need, as we all do, for another side here.
"It is incomprehensible that we can have the growth we are experiencing in south-east Queensland and yet have just one NRL team playing out of Suncorp."
The Western Corridor NRL bid is ready to rock if the game calls for an extras side in 2018.
A decision on expansion with a 17th side would need to be made by next year to give any prospective bid team 18 months to recruit players and a coach.