NRL Rules Out Moving Sydney Club To Brisbane, Might Expand To 18 Teams
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg admits it is "realistic" for a second club to come from Brisbane but has ruled out any relocation from Sydney.
It is the first time Greenberg has spoken on expansion since host broadcaster the Nine Network last week publicly pushed for a Sydney club to be shifted north.
Greenberg has spent the past eight months compiling a report into expanding the league that is expected to be forwarded to the ARL Commission by year's end.
But the thought of losing a team from Sydney hasn't even been entertained.
"We've got zero appetite to kick any teams out of our competition. We're looking at the footprint at the moment," Greenberg said on Monday.
"What that work will tell us will come down to us at the end of the year, but there is no appetite to take any club out of our 16 teams at the moment."
Greenberg's comments all but ends debate over the merits of the league being marginalised into a 12 or 14-team competition. Instead the league could balloon to 18 teams, with the idea of a conference-style competition also being explored.
"All of those things are on the table," he said.
"We're looking at both footprint and competition structure."So the structure of the competition will be equally as important."
Pressed on whether it was realistic for a second club to emerge from Brisbane, Greenberg said: "Yeah, I do think it's realistic."
However, he left the door open for a licence to be handed elsewhere.
"It's not just about Queensland, either. There's a real appetite for other teams, whether it's New Zealand or Perth, or other parts of the country," Greenberg said.
"Clearly there's some really strong appetite for rugby league in Queensland, and we'd be crazy not to look at it.
"But it's not a simple solution just to say we're going to kick a team out.
"That's certainly not the plan and it's not something on my agenda at all."
Greenberg also expressed frustration over the uncertainty surrounding the hosting of the 2021 grand final.
ANZ Stadium has been pencilled in to begin a refurbishment after next year's State of Origin series, ruling it out of action for three NRL deciders.
The SCG will host next year's grand final, leaving the next two up for grabs.
"It's frustration that we don't have a long-term plan yet for where our grand finals will be over the next few years," Greenberg said.
"I understand there's complications and sometimes these things take time, but I'd like to have it wrapped up before Christmas."