THE WESTERN Corridor NRL bid still has its sights set on a possible entry to the 2016 competition despite suspicions that expansion has been put on the back burner.
When the $1.025 billion five-year broadcast deal with Channel Nine and Fox Sports was announced recently the subject of expansion was conspicuous by its absence.
Broadcasters indicated they had not paid for an extra game but Western Corridor NRL bid boss Steve Johnson told the QT that there was still hope of extra teams being included at the back end of the deal.
"The always stated position by some of the NRL clubs that they would rather see expansion at the end of the five years so that they could consolidate," Johnson said.
"But there is another school of thought that expansion should be staged over 2016 and 2017 so that the expanded game is there when we go back to the market at the end of 2017. That way we get a better return (for the next deal).
"That would give the clubs three years to get themselves resourced and sustainable. Anything that got us into the competition inside five years would be a great result for us.
"By 2030 we are going to have one million people living in the corridor. We believe our numbers are compelling...and they are compelling now. They are only going to get bigger in the future."
Johnson said the threat of AFL was real and should not be discounted.
"We don't want to lose ground to the AFL. It is easy to say that we are a league heartland and will always be there. But if you don't look after your grassroots you end up with the same problems that NSW has with the game in the bush dying," he said
"All we can do is state our case and keep sending out facts about our bid that are compelling.
"But it is a decision the game has to make.
"In the interim we will keep working on our relationships and education pathways that we have in place now and continue our work with the Jets, Toowoomba and Souths-Logan."
- NRL expansion is in on hold for the foreseeable future
- ARLC expected to make decision known soon
- Western Corridor bid team still confident