Commission to investigate expansion

Rugby league has the product to grow, but will not expand until the newly appointed Australian Rugby League Commission is satisfied that it has achieved stability across the game.

Inaugural chairman John Grant would not rule out expansion in an exclusive interview with NRL.com, but maintained the new body would have to be convinced that strategically any additional teams would fit into a sustainable model.

“We have got the game to grow,” Grant told NRL.com.

“If we don’t come into this role without an aspiration for the game to grow and to be more successful, then we are not going to live up to the expectations of the people who have put their faith in us.

“Growth can be achieved in a number of ways, expansion could be one of those ways and I’m not saying it is and I’m not saying that it is not, I think we need to be very cognisant of what we have today.

“We have a wonderful game, we have clubs that are performing well in terms of the teams they put out on the field. But you have to say that the financial performance of the clubs is variable. You have to have an imperative view that we make sure we stabilise where necessary and make stronger what we already have got.

“Then you look at what opportunities you have that can build on that.”

With teams from Western Australia, Central Coast, Brisbane, Ipswich, Central Queensland, New Zealand and PNG all putting forward business cases for their inclusion in expansion, Grant acknowledged that it was exciting that so many communities wanted to be involved in the premier rugby league competition in the world.

“I think the really gratifying thing is that we have a number of people who have put money into promoting the expansion opportunity and that needs to be listened to, because people have done research to understand the markets that are available to them and are willing to put their money down,” he said.

“In terms of expansion as a strategy for growth, it is an opportunity that we will investigate.

“You have to reflect on the future in the context of the past, if you invest in expansion with a team in another location, you have to be prepared to understand the implications of being there for the long haul.

“That is from the league’s point of view and from the investor’s point of view.

“That is why expansion needs to be very considered because it’s a long range decision that you are making, so it has to be sustainable for the long term.”