Ottawa to put focus on player pool development over Super League chase

Ottawa leader Eric Perez insists they are willing to sacrifice instant promotion to Super League in order to establish a strong player pool in the region.

Perez spoke to the media after presenting their case to clubs on Thursday afternoon.

Perez, who played a pivotal role in the creation of Toronto Wolfpack, confirmed he left the Wolfpack because of “differing agendas.”

He claims one of those differences was the production of homegrown players, and he believes Ottawa will be better equipped to field their Canadian talent moving forward.

When pushed on his differing beliefs of the Wolfpack, he said: “A longer-term plan with more regional development.

“I think Toronto wasn’t afforded that luxury. Toronto can’t focus on that because there’s so much to do and to be honest with you there’s a lot of tough parameters around Toronto.

“We have an opportunity because of our OSEG (Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group) partnership to really focus on development and getting Canadian players in from the jump. We’ll be moving up slowly. We might not get promoted in the first year, we might not get promoted from Championship for five to ten years. We are happy to be in League 1 or Championship, it’s not all about Super League, that’s where our agendas are a little bit different.”

Perez confirmed that should Ottawa be declined, they would be willing to relocate back to the UK, a luxury they are afforded after Perez bought the Hemel Stags licence.

“If we don’t get approval to move to Ottawa we’ll move somewhere else right away,” he said.

“I’m too positive of a guy to think about that right now. If it doesn’t get approved to Ottawa it won’t get approved to move anywhere because it’s the best scenario I’ve ever seen put forward in this sport.”

Unlike the New York consortium, Perez wasn’t willing to go into some of the finer details of their bid, including commercial and broadcast deals.

Perez did confirm, however, that Ottawa had 15 owners, who he claims could all fund the business themselves.

Dean Thomas, the former CEO at Hemel, will be involved in the Ottawa bid.

“Every single one of the owners we have is capable of funding this on their own and that was a really key thing for me that I’ve known for 20+ years and have done very well for themselves and can achieve their goals.”

Perez continued by saying: “My goal and I think should be the goal is in ten years to see our competition superceed the NRL.

“When I started in Rugby League, the NRL and the AFL were neck and neck commercially. Since, the AFL has successfully been able to expand outside the traditional northern heartland. What’s that done has catapulted them firmly above the NRL in the sporting landscape.

“We’ve got to do what the AFL did and expand to markets that are hungry for our sport, what Toronto have done is show there is a massive hunger. My goal is that the best English players play in our competition and the best Australians play in our competition. Effectively have the best players in the world in our competition. On the back of that, England winning multiple World Cups on the big of the competition being stronger. Then more young people will want to get into the game. A strong viable option for Test matches against England. I predict England will win a Wolrd Cup within two World Cups with Ottawa included.”