The charge for a second team from New Zealand to enter the NRL has stepped up a gear, after it was announced that the consortium involved have signed a multi-million dollar deal with Christchurch-based Celebration Lions Sports Trust to enter a feeder team in the NSW or Queensland Cup.
Consortium spokesman Robert Picone said the A$10 million 10-year deal, which would see pre-season matches played at Porritt Park, further underpinned the financial viability of the bid.
“The arrangement our club has struck with the Lions Sports Trust is the last major piece in our bid,” Picone said. “It provides the club with a long term strong connection to the Canterbury region and a great base for our club.
“Having a Cup side so close to the NRL squad’s base is a big plus and takes away the need for our club to align with an Australian club. The alliance gives the club the right football structures to enable us to be very competitive and provides a definite and clear pathway in New Zealand for the massive talent pool, which exists in the country”.