The NRL can expect plenty of opposition from Manly and their fans, who won’t travel south to Sea Eagles games, if the club are forced to relocate home matches to Allianz Stadium, says Jamie Lyon.
According to reports on Wednesday, Manly and Cronulla could be forced to move games to Allianz Stadium, if the NRL is to receive a funding upgrade package from the NSW government for the Moore Park venue, Pirtek Stadium and ANZ Stadium.
Under NRL policy, Manly have been forced to relocate finals matches to Allianz Stadium, which has often been met with a lukewarm response by Sea Eagles fans in the way of sparsely populated games.
Manly skipper Lyon said he didn’t want home games moved to Moore Park and was sure fans wouldn’t either.
“I don’t really like the idea. We would rather stay at Brookvale – that is our home,” Lyon said on Wednesday at Manly’s Narrabeen training base.
“I’m sure there will be some angry people over this side of the bridge.
“I don’t usually cross the Narrabeen bridge let along the Sydney Harbour Bridge so … we will cross that bridge when we come to it.”
ARL Commission chairman John Grant was said to be meeting representatives from Manly and Cronulla on Wednesday as the NRL attempted to meet a 65-game commitment at Sydney’s major stadiums.
Given Parramatta, Canterbury, South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters all use the stadiums as their home grounds, 23 games will need to be shared between the Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra, Penrith, the Sharks and the Sea Eagles.
The Tigers and Dragons play four games each year between the stadiums, however the NRL – which provides financial assistance to both clubs – might ask them to up that figure to eight to help secure the funding.
Penrith are set to stay at their home base of Pepper Stadium, which is poised to leave both Manly and Cronulla needing to play a combined seven matches at Sydney’s big stadiums, most likely at Allianz.
Manly, in particular, could prove a difficult case in the NRL.
Since privatisation in 2004, the club’s constitution states they must play at least 10 games a season at Brookvale Oval.
That figure could only be decreased via a referendum of the district football club’s members, who hold a minority stake on the NRL club’s board.
The Sharks would also be unlikely to support a substantial move, given they only acquired a new naming rights sponsor earlier this month for their Woolooware base.
The NRL has until April 1 to achieve the 65-game commitment, and will then have until May 31 to decide how they want the $1.6 billion funding split between Moore Park and ANZ Stadium.
Upgrades on Pirtek Stadium will begin this year.