The Bears are prepared to move anywhere in their bid to become the NRL’s 18th team – but there are some “non-negotiables” they won’t deal with.
Speaking to the Fox League Podcast, North Sydney Bears legend Billy Moore revealed the club’s “very pragmatic model” for the NRL, which he believed would “risk the 18-man squad”.
However, Moore, who is on the board of directors, said there were elements to be guaranteed, such as the Bears’ colours, and that two to four games would be played at the iconic North Sydney Oval.
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“We’re the bears – we’ve left the North Sydney side behind,” he said.
“Obviously our history is the North Sydney Bears, but our 114-year history is one of our biggest selling points (and) our 220,000 fans.
“We’ve come up with a very practical model for the NRL” 17 (you’ve got teams), we know you need that simple 18 and you’ll need it for the next three to four years for TV. A contract of rights comes into play. We said, ‘We want to give you a solution.’
We are pragmatic and understand our place in the game. We want to reiterate and find these very, very small non-negotiables: our colors; Our badge; We need somewhere between two and four games at North Sydney Oval – one of those should be against Manly – and we want the rights to the 18th license to always be held with North Sydney Rugby League Football Club.
But other than that, he points us in the direction and we go. No one in Australian sport has done that because we understand our position and say, ‘We’ll go (anywhere) to solve your problem, risk losing the 18’.
“We want to be the solution, give the game a chance to grow. We understand that we cannot ask for money, we will eat every club that exists and we will make sure that football grows from the grassroots.”
“A place to work, tell us what you want, tell us where you need to go and we’ll go. I emphasize the word, we do Avoiding danger 18th franchise.
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The West Australian government’s desire to boldly merge with the Bears for an 18th license comes after Moore spent time at the helm of Original II in Perth.
In the year The Rugby League Commission said they were in favor of the bid, as the competition would need to be expanded from 17 when the Dolphins move to 18 in 2023.
“You like the idea and why wouldn’t you?” he said.
“We’re not saying we want eight games at North Sydney Oval, we know we can’t do that. We want somewhere between two and four and I guarantee you all those games will be massive blockbusters.”
“So we are pragmatic, we understand the future of the game and we want to be part of that future. Our 220,000 fans want to get back into the game so we’re putting our best selling point forward and we’ll have to wait and see.
But one thing we know is that 17 (teams) don’t work, 18 is ahead, so they want 18.
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While the 18th team is still a long way from being rubber-stamped, Moore believes a successful bid could enter the race in a few years.
Asked when the Bears could join the NRL Moore said: “2025-2026, somewhere in that zone.
“I think what will happen, that will depend on what happens with the dolphins,” he added.
“If they find it too difficult next year (NRL) they know they have to slow down the expansion but they need another team before 2027. Write that in stone.”