SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 03: Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V’landys and National Rugby League Acting Chief Executive Andrew Abdo arrive a NRL press conference at Rugby League Central on September 03, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
The North Sydney Bears are the latest team to throw their hat in the ring to become the NRL’s 18th team.
The NRL haven’t ruled out taking the competition beyond 17 teams, and that would hardly come as a surprise to anyone.
17 teams, as it will be for at least the 2023 season following the admission of the Dolphins – to be based out of Redcliffe – creates a bye each week without adding any extra content or value to the game and its TV rights deal.
That means logically, the NRL will look to expand to 18 teams.
Already, there have been calls for one of the two failed bids for the 17th team – the Brisbane Jets or Brisbane Firehawks – to join the competition in either 2024 or 2025, or a team in Central Queensland.
There is a feeling however that another team in the Brisbane market so soon could be a recipe for disaster.
A bid team in Perth have also expressed interest in bringing the Western Reds back, claiming they could be ready to go for the 2024 season.
That in itself could be an option worth exploring for the NRL given the timezone they reside in and the impacts that could make to the bottom line of the NRL through an increased TV deal not only in terms of content, but in terms of being able to play games at different hours.
But now the North Sydney Bears have thrown their hat into the ring, claiming they could be ready to go for 2025.
Instead of being known as the North Sydney Bears however, they would be set to follow the Dolphins approach and name themselves The Bears, playing approximately half of their games out of North Sydney Oval, and the other half in regional areas of the state, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.
The Bears have also previously bid to be located on the Central Coast – an area which has housed the New Zealand Warriors for the best part of two years – however that doesn’t appear to be part of these plans.
Bears chairman Daniel Dickinson told the publication they have already met with the NRL CEO Andrew Adbo and ARL Commimssion chairman Peter V’Landys.
“We want to be reintroduced as the 18th team, as a team of the people,” Dickson told the Herald.
“We think it’s the best rugby league story in 20 years.
“This is de-risking the growth of the game by re-engaging with 220,000 fans. If you start a new franchise, you have years of growing your fan base. This is an existing, 113-year national brand of heritage, heart and history. All we need to do is give it a platform.”
The Bears announced a new logo on social media on Wednesday evening.
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In line with significant announcements in tonight’s media regarding the Club’s roadmap to readmission in the NRL, we are excited to unveil the first step on this journey – ??? ??? ???? ????.#BEARS2022 #NRL pic.twitter.com/TsRjbf1L84
— North Sydney Bears (@NthSydneyBears) October 27, 2021
Concerns around a cluttered Sydney market could work against the club, who last played in the NRL in 1999, however, they believe they will be financially viable to break off their affiliation with the Sydney Roosters and go it alone, backed by the North Sydney Leagues Club.