A new business consortium has reportedly emerged in the race for a second Brisbane team in an expanded NRL competition.
According to Fairfax Media, the group is apparently canvassing potential backers and wants to take on the existing bid of the Brisbane Bombers, which has been run by former heavyweight Brisbane backer Craig Davison.
A move to have a team west of Brisbane has also been firmly established, as has that for a side in central Queensland, bridging the gap between the state’s southeast and the Cowboys-dominated far north.
A push to have a Brothers team installed in the NRL has also gained some support but it is thought to be a fringe candidate.
Brisbane is emerging as the key battleground for any expansion plans, with leading business figures convinced there will be a second team in the city for the 2018 season as the NRL enters a new television broadcast deal that will be much more lucrative than the last.
Club bosses have reportedly warned NRL boss Dave Smith about the financial pitfalls of any proposed expansion, given at least four teams remain reliant on money from the league to stay afloat.
But Davison is among those who believe the NRL can’t afford not to expand into Brisbane, where the Broncos top the 2015 ladder, remain the wealthiest club and are surging again under coach Wayne Bennett.
Davison told Fairfax Media he couldn’t guarantee it would be his Bombers getting the nod but said there was certain to be a new team in Brisbane within three years, regardless of what reshuffles there were with the rest of the competition.
“I’m not sure what will happen with the rest of the competition, the number of teams, but there must be a second team in Brisbane. I’m not saying that is going to be us but the NRL can’t afford not to have another side in Brisbane,” Davison said.
Former South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson has been tasked with investigating the possibility of expansion and any bid teams need to have proposals in by the end of the year.