Roosters' boss warns against ‘dangerous’ expansion plan
INFLUENTIAL Sydney Roosters chairman Nick Politis has warned the NRL against relocating a Sydney club, declaring: "You have no right."
The NRL has informally spoken about shifting any Sydney club which cannot meet a proposed financial criteria.
Politis labelled any compulsory relocation "dangerous" and "ridiculous".
"I can't see how they could move anybody," Politis said.
The Roosters godfather strongly cautioned the NRL against "going down the same path" as they did by merging or culling clubs after Super League in 1998.
"I don't think anyone in the NRL has the right to tell us to go as long as we can pay our bills. It's as simple as that," Politis said.
"I think it's too complicated. I can't see any Sydney club being moved out. It's the hardest thing. We went through all that hoo-ha with Super League.
"As long as you can pay your bills, nobody has the right to ask anyone to move. After all, the game is the clubs and the clubs own the NRL. We are the members, we're like the shareholders."
North Sydney moved games to Gosford in 1999 in a bid to stay in the competition, but ultimately merged with Manly to form the Northern Eagles before the licence reverted back to the Sea Eagles in 2003.
"To move a club out of any area, we had that experience with North Sydney," Politis said.
"We lost all those (Bears) supporters. North Sydney (catchment area) is really Swans now, AFL."
The NRL could force any Sydney-based club which faces severe cash issues to move under a new licencing proposal.
Politis claimed every financially viable Sydney club deserved to remain in the elite competition without being pushed interstate.
"It's pretty dangerous. We play eight games a weekend and what were the crowds last weekend? One hundred and forty thousand," Politis said.
"If you eliminate one-eighth - unless you do it right - you're going to lose one-eighth of the crowd every weekend. It's very tough, a tough decision, tough call.
"What they've got to understand … there has been some talk about setting financial criteria. That smells again like Super League. Remember when we had all that hoo-ha when we all had to qualify and Souths got rubbed out.
"Surely they're not going to down that road again. That would be ridiculous. They (perpetual licencing agreements) were designed to give us certainty, which is what it's all about, providing you can pay your bills, I can't see how they could move anybody."
Politis did want the game to consider and investigate expansion - not relocation.
But the billionaire businessman did have concerns about whether rugby league had sufficient money to expand to 18 teams.
"Expansion will come down to the media rights. It's all about content. If we can sell another 80 minutes, maybe that might help to maintain our current level of revenue. It comes down to that," he said.
"Whether or not we afford to do it is another question. We probably need to increase our footprint. We haven't done much there in the last 10, 15 years if we are going to finish up being a national sport.
"But then again, it takes funding and I don't think the NRL has the finding to do it anyway.
"Something needs to be done as far as expanding the game. I think the NRL have got to have to some serious discussions with the media people (broadcast partners) to see what they need.
"It's going to be governed by that. Then somehow we are going to have to come up with the funding if we want to increase the number of clubs."