Logo for the Brisbane Bombers NRL team.
Logo for the Brisbane Bombers NRL team.

Bombers back with bid for second team

RUGBY LEAGUE: The Brisbane Bombers are ready to "pull the trigger" and deliver the river city a second NRL team.

Incoming ARLC chairman Peter Beattie's declaration that the NRL must expand or die has given the Bombers' bid team renewed optimism.

It has been seven years since the Bombers announced their intentions to secure an NRL licence and become Brisbane's second club alongside the Broncos.

The NRL has continued along since then, failing to introduce any new clubs to the competition since the Gold Coast Titans joined in 2007.

Beattie highlighted Ipswich and Redcliffe as possible areas for a third club in southeast Queensland but the Bombers believe they have the strongest bid for inclusion.

Brisbane Bombers NRL bid CEO Nicholas Livermore. (Liam Kidston.)
Brisbane Bombers NRL bid CEO Nicholas Livermore. (Liam Kidston.)

"We are ready to go," Bombers' NRL bid CEO Nick Livermore said.

"We've got a really strong business case. We've got the financial backing. There are commercial partners there.

"It's a matter of getting the chance to pull the trigger.

"There is a renewed optimism when you've got someone of Peter Beattie's credentials and experience saying that.

"It shows his mindset about where he feels the commission should be directing the game."

The Broncos have enjoyed a monopoly in Brisbane since their introduction in 1988, building an NRL powerhouse which now rakes in revenue in excess of $40 million a year.

The club is widely recognised to have a geographical advantage, being the only team in a rugby league-mad city of more than two million people.

In contrast, there are nine clubs in the Sydney region encompassing about five million people.

The financial volatility of the current 16 NRL clubs - only the Broncos regularly turn a profit - has been a major factor in the game's reluctance to expand.

But former Queensland premier Beattie is determined to grow the game's footprint, highlighting Queensland and Perth as potential locations for new teams when the game's next broadcast cycle begins in 2022.

New ARLC chairman Peter Beattie (Jenny Evans)
New ARLC chairman Peter Beattie (Jenny Evans)

Livermore, who has former Maroons players Billy Moore and Scott Sattler involved in the Bombers' bid, said it made economic sense for Brisbane to be granted a licence.

"Commercially, Brisbane is the largest market between Sydney and Singapore," he said.

"The fact that there is not rugby league on here every weekend … we're behind the eight ball.

"The only way to create a footprint is to have a brand people can identify with.

"Without getting into the semantics of it, we've always maintained you need to be in Brisbane and push to the regions.

"The moment you place a regional team in, you polarise. If you move to the north, you polarise the south. We've maintained you need a team in the city and pushing out.

"The model to sustainability is to have corporate commercial support and Brisbane is far and away the best place for that."

The Ipswich NRL bid team has developed a community-owned model they believe will encompass the greater western region of southeast Queensland.

And Ipswich bid chief Steve Johnson said it was time for the NRL to make some strong decisions.

"We see ourselves as Logan, Ipswich, Toowoomba and the greater west," he said.

"After some flat time where the NRL has failed to really drive any thought of expansion, it's good to see the comment being raised by Peter.

"It's really a time for the game to show some leadership. We all showed our good faith when the word went out in 2010 (that the NRL wanted to expand). We all worked hard to establish bids then it was the NRL that stepped away from it.

"It's not really up to us to prove we should be in the NRL. We proved that six years ago.

"It's now up to the NRL to show some leadership and guidance as to how they're going to expand."

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