THE battle has officially begun. The Ipswich Jets football club has formed a bid team which is creating a business plan to pitch the city as the region most deserving of an NRL club.
Jets board chairman and the owner of a large law firm, Steven Johnson, will helm the bid team after he met with NRL boss David Gallop earlier this month.
Johnson discussed with Gallop the need for the Jets football club to hold the rights as sole bidders for any NRL team west of Brisbane.
While the team’s support base would include Logan and Toowoomba, it would be an Ipswich based team with a football club structure and no private ownership.
The side will likely be called the Ipswich Jets although the Western Jets also has support.
Johnson and a highly regarded businessman, whom he declined to name, have begun preparing a detailed business report which will prove why Ipswich
deserves to be the NRL’s next expansion site.
“We do not want a private ownership model here in Ipswich that’s what I spoke with Gallop about,” Johnson, who owns Queensland Law Group, said.
“We will have a football club based team run by the Jets which will be part of the community.
“We are preparing a feasibility study which will prove we would be successful with this model.
“Our argument is quite compelling.
“In six to 12 months the NRL will call for submissions and our bid team will have a detail business plan to present.”
The bid team was formed after Gallop said two teams would likely be admitted for the 2013 season, one team based in an expansion area such as Peth, another in heartland such as Ipswich or Central Queensland.
Ipswich’s population is 170,000 but government forecasts state it will explode to more than 400,000 in the next two decades, providing a huge potential pool of footy-loving families.
The Ipswich Jets NRL team will initially play out of Suncorp Stadium while their own stadium is funded and built.
“Our vision for the Jets NRL team is to have heavy community involvement which ensures the great talent in the region can stay here until they are men,” Johnson said.
Former Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm foundation CEO John Ribot owns the Jets League Club and will provide advice to the bid team, but will not be heavily involved.
“We won’t make a spectacle of this proposal, we want to keep it low key, but if Gallop wants a team here we will have the evidence to prove how it will work.
Last month Gallop told The Queensland Times that the NRL must expand to Ipswich for the future health of the game.
“The corridor around Ipswich is the fastest growing region in Australia and we need to be a part of it,” Gallop said.
“We need two teams in Brisbane and having a presence in the Ipswich region is a must for our game’s future.”
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale is also part of the Jets bid team.
Pisasale said there was more than enough corporate support in Ipswich to fund the team.
THERE are three other formal competitors alongside the Ipswich Jets vying for the NRL’s next two licences: Perth Reds, Central Queensland and the Central Coast Bears.
The Central Queensland bid is based on a private ownership model and has the backing of a multi-millionaire.
Central Queensland is hoping to secure Gorden Tallis as their inaugural coach.
While the Central Coast Bears have enlisted for State of Origin player Matt Orford as a big name to help sell their pitch.
Orford will be the club’s inaugural assistant coach if the Bears are granted an NRL licence.
But Steve Johnson said he had no intention of bringing a big name in to help sell their bid.
“We don’t need to get some former great player involved,” Johnson said.
“We have the population, the history and the resources to run a successful club.
“Once the NRL sees our business plan they will see how much sense it makes and they would find it very hard to knock back.”