Australia

D-Day arrives for NRL expansion candidates as south-east Queensland bids make their final push


The three NRL expansion hopefuls will have a last chance to impress on Monday.

Representatives of the Redcliffe Dolphins, Brisbane Jets and Brisbane Firehawks are set to make one-hour presentations to the NRL expansion committee in Brisbane.

It’s a last pitch before the committee decides which bid will become the NRL’s newest club.

A round of meetings in June were put off due to COVID-19 and several current clubs have grown concerned about expansion with pressure on their own finances due to the COVID-19 situation, the closure of leagues clubs and having lost several home games.

A crucial point of Monday’s discussions will be whether a bid feels it is capable of being ready to join the league in 2023 or will need until 2024.

Of the three bids, the Dolphins have previously stated they have an “NRL ready” facility, as well as a reported $100 million asset base, while the Firehawks hold $25m in cash reserves.

The Jets have also insisted they can meet a $10m financial guarantee from the NRL if their bid is successful despite doubts over their monetary muscle.

The Jets would play their games out of Lang Park but target the state’s western corridor, which is currently untapped by the NRL despite being rugby league heartland with Ipswich City Council having outlined plans to build a 20,500-seat stadium in the region to support the bid.

The well-established Dolphins would split games between Lang Park and Redcliffe, which is currently home to the A-League’s Brisbane Roar and equipped with administration, training and business facilities.

Billed as a team able to create an inner-city Brisbane NRL rivalry, the Firehawks are the brainchild of the Easts Tigers, a club that acts as a feeder team to the Melbourne Storm.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V’Landys has refused to set a timeline on the expansion decision, but Monday’s meetings are expected to be a crucial step in the bid process.

AAP


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