Coach Garth Brennan is already under pressure. (Jason O'Brien/Getty Images)
Coach Garth Brennan is already under pressure. (Jason O'Brien/Getty Images)

Brisbane Titans? Why NRL must consider relocation

WHEN he stepped into the furnace that is life as the ARL Commission chairman, Peter Beattie made a compelling statement about the NRL's need to expand or die.

The ARL Commission would be prudent to consider another option - relocation.

Specifically, the code's decision-makers should consider shifting the Gold Coast licence to establish a second NRL team in Brisbane.

This is not a knee-jerk reaction to the Titans' 54-8 loss to the Dragons last week in Toowoomba. Most teams cop a hammering at some point.

Ashley Taylor walks off after the Dragons rout. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Ashley Taylor walks off after the Dragons rout. (AAP Image/Darren England)

The Titans will bounce back on the field, but whether they can truly flourish off it is the million-dollar question.

If the governing body is serious about maximising the potential of the NRL, it needs to consider the geographical challenges of the Gold Coast and the more prosperous opportunities in Brisbane.

As it stands, the Titans are a financial basket case.

And in a Gold Coast region littered with carcasses from a coterie of top-level sports, no one can table a bulletproof argument that the area is commercially fertile enough to sustain an NRL team.

I truly hope the club's new owners Rebecca Frizelle and Darryl Kelly prove me wrong because they, along with CEO Graham Annesley and chairman Dennis Watt, are clever operators with a desire to succeed on the Gold Coast.

But if the Titans can't turn a profit before the next TV deal in 2023, the NRL should close the doors and shift the licence to Brisbane.

Cold, hard figures underscore the struggle ahead for Frizelle and Kelly.

Last year, the Titans lost $3.17 million. Since 2014, they have haemorrhaged $12.62m.

What would long-suffering Gold Coast fans make of it? (Scott Fletcher)
What would long-suffering Gold Coast fans make of it? (Scott Fletcher)

This season, they will post another deficit, albeit significantly smaller given the generous $12.3 million grant from the NRL to each of the 16 clubs.

Where the red ink stops is anyone's guess, but the one certainty is this: Brisbane is a bigger, more populated and more commercially robust market than the Gold Coast.

Surely someone on the ARL Commission can see the absurdity in the NRL possessing just one team - the Brisbane Broncos - in Queensland's most populous city.

Brisbane is home to 2.2 million people. The Gold Coast has a population of 577,000, many of whom are transient types more concerned with the bright lights and sights of Cavill Avenue.

Brisbane's only team, the Broncos, last year posted record revenue of $42 million.

That figure suggests there is untapped millions and a slew of sponsorship opportunities for a second Brisbane team compared to the corporate battle the Titans wage every year.

If the NRL is concerned about losing a turf war with the AFL on the Gold Coast, they need not worry.

The AFL's Suns have the bark and bite of a French poodle, relying on ludicrous handouts from the AFL ($25 million last year) just to maintain some semblance of a heartbeat.

The Suns' threat is minimal, and harnessed anyway by their existence in a smaller market. Two NRL clubs in Brisbane, boasting three times as many people as the Gold Coast, would ostensibly crush the AFL's Lions in the more critical southeast Queensland sector.

 

Of course, winning is a vital currency, and the Titans have lost their mojo.

Since making the 2010 preliminary final, they have won just 64 of 172 games. Only Newcastle have won fewer games (62) over the same seven-year period.

The time is now for the Titans to put their stamp on the Gold Coast.

Otherwise, the NRL should walk away forever and give the Broncos a true competitor.



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