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Bears confirm bid to become NRL's next franchise


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The Bears have gone public with their bid to become the NRL's 18th franchise, revealing a new shortened name that ditches their North Sydney branding 22 years after they were forced out of the competition.

After the NRL earlier this month confirmed the Dolphins, who beat out Queensland rivals the Firehawks and Jets to join the competition in 2023, the Bears announced they want to be the next team to enter the competition.

An 18th franchise will be on the NRL's radar going forward, and it's certainly no secret after CEO Andrew Abdo confirmed it would make sense to expand the competition's weekly fixtures.

"Seventeen is a natural stepping stone to 18," Abdo said earlier this month. "At 18 we have another fixture, that provides a whole other opportunity for our fans."

The Bears outlined their plan to the NRL five months ago but chose to keep it a secret during the league's quest for a new Queensland franchise.

Part of the bid will see the club known just as the "Bears" after a new logo a released ditched the iconic North Sydney branding.

It's understood the club will still be based out of North Sydney, but part of the bid will see the team venture out to regional NSW areas such as Dubbo, Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga, the Central Coast and Tamworth.

Bears chairman Daniel Dickson spoke of his excitement surrounding the bid.

"We want to be reintroduced as the 18th team, as a team of the people," Dickson said

"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 last played in the NRL in 1999 after they were forced out and have since been the feeder club to the Sydney Roosters.

The club in 2000 merged with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles to form the Northern Eagles, but that only lasted until 2002.

Part of the Dolphins' bid to become the NRL's 17th franchise was they needed to stump up a $50 million bank guarantee for the first five years.

To prove they can be financially stable, the Bears have been backed in by The North Sydney Leagues Club as a long-term sponsor.

It's understood several are also open to a private ownership model.

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1 hour ago, Sports Prophet said:

I feel for North’s fans but this is not a bid I could get on board with. I am actually stunned that the Bears exec think this is what the NRL will be seeking of an 18th team.

The whole point of a second Brisbane team was to have a game at Suncorp every round, yet the team that "won" the license plans to play effectively half their home games each season at a tiny suburban venue with a capacity of 11.5k and a regional venue with a capacity of 12k...

This sort of faux expansion, that pays lip service to real growth while in practice only adding another dead end "traditional" club is exactly the sort of thing that PVL has pushed since joining the ARLC.

Edited by The Great Dane
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17 minutes ago, DoubleD said:

The only way I could see this working is if the NRL went along the 2 division route, with all Sydney based clubs in one and the rest in another. It would make sense then, but not in any other model

That'd make a comp that is already overly Sydney centric even more Sydney centric and even further slant the comp in their favour... In a just world that'd be SL 2.0 territory. 

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2 minutes ago, The Great Dane said:

That'd make a comp that is already overly Sydney centric even more Sydney centric and even further slant the comp in their favour... In a just world that'd be SL 2.0 territory. 

Not if NZ 2 and Perth join the other division

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1 hour ago, The Great Dane said:

The whole point of a second Brisbane team was to have a game at Suncorp every round, yet the team that "won" the license plans to play effectively half their home games each season at a tiny suburban venue with a capacity of 11.5k and a regional venue with a capacity of 12k...

This sort of faux expansion, that pays lip service to real growth while in practice only adding another dead end "traditional" club is exactly the sort of thing that PVL has pushed since joining the ARLC.

They’ll play more than half at Suncorp

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Yeah, that's what the NRL needs - another team in Sydney.

I have plenty of sympathy with the NSW clubs that got merged or dumped, but I don't see what bringing back the Bears would do for the NRL, compared to (for instance) Perth or a second NZ team.

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"We are easily breakable, by illness or falling, or a million other ways of leaving this earthly life. We are just so much mashed potato."  Don Estelle

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47 minutes ago, Sports Prophet said:

They’ll play more than half at Suncorp

Their most recent talk on the subject (during the press conference for their launch if you want to find it) was that they were looking at playing roughly 7-8 per season at Suncorp.

So yeah it's 'more than half', but it's small difference and a bloody joke when considering where they plan on playing those 4-5 others... I'd also bet you anything that they increase the amount of games in Redcliffe overtime, not decrease them.

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It didn't take long for the Bears haters

in the Sydney news media to reply to this story.

................................

Bearer of bad news: Why North Sydney will never return to the NRL

The Bears are dead. Long live the Bears. Efforts to return the fabled red-and-black jerseys to the NRL are a Cinderella story that should remain in the confines of a fairytale book.

Expansion fever has gripped rugby league since "the Dolphins", which sounds a bit like "Prince" or "Ronaldo" without any geographical identifier, were given the golden ticket for the next licence.

They will enter the league in 2023 with Wayne Bennett as coach, a fertile recruiting ground and access to an enormous market that has been starved of a second team since the Crushers arrived, then departed, with all the momentum of Garrick Morgan in open space.

They will work. The Bears will not, no matter the sentimental value behind the name or their former greats, of which there is much and many. Almost every rugby league fan had a soft spot for North Sydney - was there anything better than Martin Bella in full flight? - but nostalgia won't pay the bills in the NRL.

Sydney doesn't need another team

Let's start with the obvious. The Harbour City is already a saturated market when it comes to rugby league, to the point where relocation occasionally pops up in the debate about how to ensure the viability of the competition. Like the Dolphins, North Sydney want to be known as "the Bears" in a bid to appeal to a wider audience, although like the Dolphins, everybody knows where the Bears belong, no matter how many games you play in regional NSW.

Simply saying you will be a "team of the people" doesn't actually make you a team of the people and the vast majority of football fans didn't come down in the last shower. Should the Bears make a return, their core market would be current fans of North Sydney, which campaigns as a feeder club to the Roosters. Having a club disappear from the top tier is a bitter pill and many Bears fans simply aren't invested in the NRL week-to-week.

Sadly, the time for a revival has come and gone.

The NRL wants fresh pastures

The ink had barely dried on the reveal of the NRL's 17th team when speculation began over its 18th side. That's a nice even number that avoids the need for a weekly bye and crucially for broadcasters, means more content across the course of a season.

The Bears were quick to put up their hands and remind the game of their ambitions.

"The thing for us is you can't produce 113 years of history in one or two seasons, that's what we bring to the game," Daniel Dickson, the Bears chairman, said. "It's well supported, it's a heritage brand and foundation club. The eyeballs will be on the game if the Bears are playing, that's for sure."

But if more expansion was to eventuate, areas like Perth, a second team in New Zealand, or even a fifth team in Queensland, somewhere in the vast stretch between Redcliffe and Townsville, would be the focus.

There's no rush to add an 18th side

Much of the debate about adding the Dolphins was whether there was enough playing depth to cover 16 clubs, let alone an extra at the table. Given the game has just emerged from a season of historic disparity, it will be worth taking a breath and seeing how they fare before hitting the go button again. Granted, a healthy portion of the lopsided scores were at least partly caused by maddening rule changes that were rushed through and had unintended side effects. But if there really aren't enough players to go around, that part of the garden needs to be tended first.

One-size-fits-all teams never work

Just as the Dolphins have been rightly criticised for watering down their history and heritage to try and have "wider appeal" to some fantasy market of would-be supporters just waiting for the right fish to swim past, the Bears stand to lose everything and gain little if they really did want to return as a semi-baseless entity with home games spread across North Sydney Oval, major stadiums and regional NSW. While she has few rivals as far as pure beauty, North Sydney Oval is not fit-for-purpose as a modern sporting venue these days. It could only be used sparingly, for nostalgia's sake alone.

And for historic clubs like the Bears, it should be all or nothing if they were to make a return to the big league. Alas, for the famous old club, no matter the faith and history and even financial backing, they are simply based in the wrong place.

 

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On 28/10/2021 at 08:28, R L Winger said:

The Bears have gone public with their bid to become the NRL's 18th franchise, revealing a new shortened name that ditches their North Sydney branding 22 years after they were forced out of the competition.

After the NRL earlier this month confirmed the Dolphins, who beat out Queensland rivals the Firehawks and Jets to join the competition in 2023, the Bears announced they want to be the next team to enter the competition.

An 18th franchise will be on the NRL's radar going forward, and it's certainly no secret after CEO Andrew Abdo confirmed it would make sense to expand the competition's weekly fixtures.

"Seventeen is a natural stepping stone to 18," Abdo said earlier this month. "At 18 we have another fixture, that provides a whole other opportunity for our fans."

The Bears outlined their plan to the NRL five months ago but chose to keep it a secret during the league's quest for a new Queensland franchise.

Part of the bid will see the club known just as the "Bears" after a new logo a released ditched the iconic North Sydney branding.

It's understood the club will still be based out of North Sydney, but part of the bid will see the team venture out to regional NSW areas such as Dubbo, Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga, the Central Coast and Tamworth.

Bears chairman Daniel Dickson spoke of his excitement surrounding the bid.

"We want to be reintroduced as the 18th team, as a team of the people," Dickson said

"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 last played in the NRL in 1999 after they were forced out and have since been the feeder club to the Sydney Roosters.

The club in 2000 merged with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles to form the Northern Eagles, but that only lasted until 2002.

Part of the Dolphins' bid to become the NRL's 17th franchise was they needed to stump up a $50 million bank guarantee for the first five years.

To prove they can be financially stable, the Bears have been backed in by The North Sydney Leagues Club as a long-term sponsor.

It's understood several are also open to a private ownership model.

In my opinion the 18th NRL will will be from Queensland. I'm not saying it's right, but Peter V'landys philosophy seems to be fish where the fish are.

Edited by The Future is League
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1 hour ago, The Future is League said:

In my opinion the 18th NRL will will be from Queensland. I'm not saying it's right, but Peter V'landys philosophy seems to be fish where the fish are.

He has certainly spoken of his antipathy for any other city outside of NSW or Qld. Surely the powers that be will at least recognise the value of another NZ side, so I hope you are wrong.

NZII is my prediction.

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On 28/10/2021 at 09:17, Sports Prophet said:

I feel for North’s fans but this is not a bid I could get on board with. I am actually stunned that the Bears exec think this is what the NRL will be seeking of an 18th team.

The Sharks have just signed two players, Hollie Wheeler and Shontelle Stowers, from the Bears for their NSW premiership women`s team. Both have played SOO. Reports suggest the moves are part of the Sharks push for a NRLW licence when the comp next expands. As you have noted before, they were unlucky to miss out in 2018.

This story got me comparing the Sharks with the Bears. The thing that ought to save Cronulla from the threat of relocation is the depth of their junior league. There was a fan survey that concluded the Sharks had the strongest relationship with their local community of any Sydney club. I believe the junior league is instrumental. The huge expansion of women and girls League Tag in the Shire will have further bolstered the engagement.

By contrast, North Sydney`s junior league is sketchy. When they were ejected from the NRL, building up their grass roots presence was the best way of making a case for readmission. There`s been a bit of growth recently and they`ve given good support to their open-age women`s team, but through most of the past two decades their focus seems to have been on ensuring Norths Leagues was profitable. For me, that smacks of retrenchment.

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On 04/11/2021 at 01:13, Sports Prophet said:

He has certainly spoken of his antipathy for any other city outside of NSW or Qld. Surely the powers that be will at least recognise the value of another NZ side, so I hope you are wrong.

NZII is my prediction.

Going on current talk NZ is the safe bet for the 18th club, however it's completely reliant on NZ broadcaster interest. If Sky or another broadcaster won't put up the cash for another team then it won't be viable, at that point Qld, specifically another Brisbane club, would be the hot favourite.

As long as the ideological group currently in control of the sport maintains control Perth and Adelaide, i.e. where the real long-term growth and money is, have little to no hope of getting a club. It's a shame really because the AFL is really starting to leave RL behind in national market share now, and once they get too far ahead it'll make it much more difficult for the NRL to grow it's share.

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On 13/11/2021 at 07:14, Anita Bath said:

north sydney bears without north sydney oval is like gin without tonic.

That rings true. But NSO is hardly a suitable venue for NRL games. Which illustrates that the North Sydney Bears would only succeed in the NRL by not being the North Sydney Bears.

Which, in turn, illustrates why their bid for readmission is doomed to fail.

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Far prefer watching a game at NSO than at Redcliffe…hardly any shade and inadequate catering for large crowds. Its now a concrete oven miles from anywhere. But thats why they will play most games at suncorp and wont carry the name of the franchise location.

A team with no identity

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