Nothing written in new agreement to stop NRL expansion
CQ NRL Bid chairman Geoff Murphy says the NRL's new broadcast deal signed with Channel Nine will have little impact on the expansion of the code.
Murphy yesterday addressed rumours that growth beyond the current 16 teams seemed unlikely following the announcement of a $925 million five-year free to air deal.
"I think people are reading into it more than necessary," he said.
"There are no definite provisions in the new agreement that don't allow the NRL to expand."
Nine has won the rights to broadcast the NRL from 2018 to 2022 with the season to be completed in 25 rounds instead of 26.
Murphy welcomed the news as helping to secure the game's long-term future and said it would have minimal impact on Central Queensland's bid.
"This deal assumes 16 teams. The NRL are still in discussions about whether they can introduce a 17th team," he said.
"In all conversations we have had they have spoken about expansion but they would not say anything further until the whole-of-game report was realised in October."
NRL head of strategy Shane Richardson is presently conducting a whole-of-game review and Murphy was sweating on a call for submissions later this year.
He said the Brisbane Bombers and Western Corridor bid teams also continued to push their case as commercial and viable clubs.
"The NRL are considering expansion and the Bombers and Ipswich are also vying for the licence," Murphy said. "They tend to favour the south-east corner but have said CQ was a likely team to fit the bill."
Last week coaches Wayne Bennett (Broncos) and Paul Green (Cowboys) took opposite sides of the expansion debate, with Bennett arguing the introduction of another NRL would dilute the current talent pool.
Green suggested there was enough talent in the Queensland and NSW State Leagues, together with the expats in the English Super League, to warrant a 17th franchise.
NRL 360 commentator Ben Ikin, a former Brisbane Bronco, suggested the NRL should be looking at geographical expansion before bringing in new clubs.
"I do think the relocation of clubs has always been on the cards and something we have considered in the past," Murphy said.
"We will continue talking to NRL clubs once I have a clearer understanding on the future."
Murphy said the CQ NRL Bid continued to move in a positive direction since it was officially launched in March 2009.
"Central Queensland is a major hub for rugby league talent and we are continuing to take small steps towards securing an NRL team," he said.
"Our development program continues to gain momentum as it moves into its fifth year of showcasing CQ talent."
NRL Bid teams
Central Coast Bears
West Coast Pirates
Papua New Guinea Hunters