Townsville Bulletin

Souths are ‘not against’ 17 teams


THE ARL Commission’s expansion hopes have received a massive boost with one of Sydney’s powerhouse clubs, grand finalists the Rabbitohs, insisting they are not leading a revolt against a 17-team competitio­n.

ARL Commission boss Peter V’landys is set to stare down the clubs over expansion following Sunday’s NRL grand final after calling a meeting of chairmen and chief executives to discuss the addition of a second Brisbane team for 2023.

V’landys has promised to take the clubs on the expansion journey and next week’s meeting shapes as the final step before the ARLC announces the addition of another team in South East Queensland.

While the Dolphins remain the prohibitiv­e favourites, the Brisbane Firehawks and Jets haven’t given up on securing the extra licence.

The clubs held a fiery meeting with NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo last Friday and will now get their shot at V’landys as they seek assurances that the numbers stack up and the existing clubs won’t suffer with the addition of a new side.

It is understood the NRL has also told the clubs that they will provide them with updates on broadcasti­ng talks and their finances next week.

There have been suggestion­s that South Sydney are among the clubs chiefly opposed to expansion.

However, Souths boss Blake Solly denied that was the case and backed plans for a second Brisbane club to rival the Broncos if financial forecasts are strong.

“I wouldn’t say we are antiexpans­ion at all,” Solly said.

“We just want to get more of an understand­ing about why expansion would be good for the competitio­n. To Peter and Andrew’s credit, they said they would always bring that business case back to us and take us through it.

“We are waiting for that before we make our minds up. The clubs just want the security over the funding model for 2023 as well.

“I don’t think you can say there is any real resistance towards expansion, there is just a process to go through and the clubs are waiting for that to take place. Andrew and Peter have said we will be better off as a result of expansion and if the finances show that, then none of the 16 clubs are going to stand in the way.”

V’landys has already assured the existing clubs that they will be no worse off in a 17-team competitio­n and they believe they have the security of an agreement struck five years ago that guaranteed they would not go backwards when a new side entered the premiershi­p.

There is a genuine belief at Rugby League Central that adding a new side will only increase the game’s revenue.

At the heart of that belief is the value to the broadcaste­rs of an additional side in Brisbane at a time when the NRL is enjoying bumper ratings through the finals series.

“The commitment that Peter and Andrew have given us is that there will be more money because that’s what they want expansion to achieve,” Solly said.

“They think the existing clubs will be better off because of expansion. As long as we have the security from the NRL that the game will be better off with expansion, we will be happy.”

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