The pressure is mounting to see NRL club axed from the competition, perhaps opening the way for a Sydney-based outfit to be relocated and make Brisbane a two-team town.
NRL boss Peter Beattie insists no decision has been made on the future footprint of the competition as the Nine Network pushes hard for a major shakeup.
Nine director of sport Tom Malone said the network wanted to see a second side to rival the Broncos to be introduced in time for the next broadcasting deal which will begin in 2023.
He put the existing clubs under pressure when he said that his preference was for one club to be cut in order to make way.
It places uncertainty on the crowded Sydney market and the likes of Cronulla, Manly and the Wests Tigers as well as the Gold Coast, who have struggled for consistency since entering the competition.
Beattie said that no decision would be made before December when NRL will hand down a report on possible future expansion.
“The ARLC has made no decision on the future footprint of the game,” Beattie said.
“The ARLC asked the NRL to work on a footprint strategy and report back by December 2019.
“That work involved stakeholder consultation. No club will be forced to move.
“Clubs will have a chance to voice their views on September 12.”
Malone said he prefers the option of axing an existing club rather than adding another because a 17-team competition, which would involve one team having a bye every week, wouldn’t add any value to the game’s broadcasting rights.
“That could come from another team being relocated there, or better still another club being discontinued and a new club established in Brisbane,” Malone told News Corp.
“In a perfect world you’d probably have one or two less teams.
“What clubs should go?
“I’m not going to get into that one. It’s a hard decision but probably one that needs to be made in the longer term interests of the game.”
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg reportedly met with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Friday to discuss a new Brisbane team.
NSW coach Brad Fittler said he supported a Sydney team being moved to Brisbane but still retaining part of its identity, pointing to the success the AFL had in moving South Melbourne to Sydney and Fitzroy to Brisbane.
“There’s a lot of narrow-mindedness about how it should be done and who it should be,” Fittler told the Sunday Footy Show.
“If we look at the AFL model and how that’s worked with the Sydney Swans and the Brisbane Lions – the Swans came up from South Melbourne, so their history doesn’t start in (1982), it goes back to South Melbourne.
“Every time we have this discussion there’s an adamant view we have to start a new club.
“I’m thinking the Cronulla Sharks could go to Perth and have this history and play some games at Cronulla and some in Perth.”