By Aaron Callaghan
Art work and concept by Matt Haines - Find his work here - https://twitter.com/MattHainesSport
One of the key rules of life is to 'choose your battles'.
To that end I won't be beating the 'move Cronulla Sharks to Perth drum' anymore. I'll let others do that for me, like Mark Geyer and Paul Green with the latter claiming that relocation of a Sydney team was probably the most viable business model and that a second Brisbane team should be considered.
It seems the mere suggestion of moving a team out of the crowded Sydney Market is is far too divisive among fans and readers alike, even given the fact that it makes complete commercial sense in growing the National Rugby League into a truly national game, moreover, the NRL season proper is fast approaching and the Sharks Jersey looks like a roadside billboard for hire - "For $9.95 per week this space could be yours". I think at this point, so close to the season kick off The Unsportsmen are firming as Sharks naming rights sponsors.
The Australian Rugby League as it was known at the time placed a team in Perth in 1994 and it was essentially the super league war that killed the franchise among travel costs and dwindling crowds . Now is the time to start preparing now to add a team in Perth in the medium term by 2030.
Sporting teams in the West Australian capital are well patronised, given there is significant competition for eyeballs in the market with two AFL teams, the Western Force existing in the rapid Rugby competition and through summer the Scorchers play in front of packed crowds and the Perth Wildcats have made the NBL finals for over 20 years straight and consistently sell out their venue. Some clever scheduling to avoid AFL game clashes is a must.
Perth is the first stepping stone in creating a truly national competition and must be a priority in growing the game, even ahead of New Zealand and the USA (although stealing a larger slice of the NZ market should be on the whiteboard). TV rights are the linchpin of the games financial viability therefor adding the Perth Market into the next rights deal can be a huge advantage. Game two of this years State of Origin series is being held at the enigmatic Optus Stadium in Perth, a reasonable leading indicator of the NRL’s thinking and the fans appetite for rugby league.
It is time for the 'The National Rugby League' to become a national game before expanding into into new overseas markets. Does the NRL need a team in Perth? The answer is yes, eventually.
Is expansion or relocation in the NRL is inevitable?
Drop a comment below and let me know what you would do.
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