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Ongoing Coronavirus challenges sees NRL delay plans for 17th team

Ongoing Coronavirus challenges sees NRL delay plans for 17th team
July 29, 2021

The NRL has revealed that it is to delay expansion plans to introduce a 17th team and fourth Queensland side due to the financial strain caused by the latest Coronavirus pandemic.

The NRL’s plans to introduce a second team in greater Brisbane team for its 2023 have been halted due to a range of unanticipated costs, including the current expense of moving 12 teams to Queensland to finish the NRL season due to the latest outbreaks in NSW.

Confirming yesterday that the plans for NRL expansion had been put on hold, Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman, Peter V’Landys stated “the analysis of expansion has stopped for the moment.

“I have said to the clubs that the work on expansion has stopped for the moment, but the work will recommence on it.”

The NRL told its current 16 teams on Tuesday that the expansion will potentially be delayed until 2024 as the game remains financially strained.

Following its new free-to-air broadcasting deal with Channel 9, which commences in 2023, the NRL had been planning the addition of a 17th team, with the Redcliffe Dolphins and the Brisbane Jets and Firehawks competing to gain the spot.

However, V’landys and NRL Chief Executive, Andrew Abdo are still aiming to meet their initial timeline, despite the game bleeding money due to the lack of crowds and running costs of relocating the final three months of the 2021 season to Queensland.

V’landys “it’s not true to say expansion is absolutely off (for 2023). The ARL Commission will make the final decision

“We have put the tools down on expansion and until we pick up the tools again, I can’t tell you if we will have another team for 2023.

“We have a lot of variables we have to consider, including the current challenges (of keeping the NRL competition alive in Queensland).”

The NRL is set to lose an estimated $45 million this season due to the cost of relocating the entire competition.

Head of the Brisbane Jets expansion bid, Nick Livermore, expressed his concern about delaying the proposal for too long, suggesting it risked giving the AFL a chance to expand in Queensland.

Livermore commented “the ARL Commission would be aware of the risk factor of delaying the expansion for too long, especially with the AFL targeting Brisbane’s western corridor, which is the highest growing population area in Queensland.

“We are at risk of losing ground to the AFL, but that may be a short-term risk we have to take to ensure the game’s stability.”

Image: The Moreton Daily Stadium, home ground of NRL aspirants the Redcliffe Dolphins rugby league football club.

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