NRL clubs warn North Sydney Bears they would need $100 million to buy the Gold Coast franchise
Dean Ritchie, The Daily Telegraph
March 14, 2017 7:57pm
NRL clubs have warned the North Sydney Bears they would need $100 million to buy the Gold Coast franchise and ensure the club’s long-term future.
The Daily Telegraph revealed on Monday that Norths were preparing a $7 million takeover bid for the NRL-owned Titans.
Rival clubs though have laughed off that figure — claiming it would be a stratosphere short of what was required for the new club’s long-term financial sustainability.
“There wouldn’t be much left if they lost $4 million to $5 million in the first year,” one NRL club CEO said. “That’s what most clubs lose. You would need regular income of around $15 million each year and around $100 (million) for long-term sustainability. The $7 million would quickly run out.”
Clubs offered mixed responses when asked what the Titans would be worth. One CEO claimed $10m, another said well in excess of $20m, a third said nothing, given Gold Coast went into voluntary administration during February, 2015.
Bears officials, led by general manager Greg Florimo and club chairman Perry Lopez, have opened dialogue with the NRL about acquiring the financially-struggling Titans in a deal that would include wearing Norths’ traditional red-and-black colours and changing their name to the Gold Coast Bears.
Florimo and Lopez were not commenting again on Tuesday.
“The NRL would have tipped in around $7m to $8m so they will want their money back first before selling,” one chairman said. “The cost overall to buy the Titans would be in excess of $20m in the short-term, plus you would need cash flow.”
It may be some time before the Bears are reborn in the NRL.
Sources close to Norths are adamant the Bears could quite comfortably fund a team as they own four licensed clubs — North Sydney Leagues, Seagulls at Tweed Heads, The Greens (North Sydney Bowling Club) and The Lane Cove Club — and have several significant private investors.
A Norths source said: “Gold Coast as a stand-alone club won’t work. It can’t survive with just Gold Coast people. They are transients and tourists. They need a new dimension through the Sydney market place.”
The proposed buyout would include playing three games a year in NSW, the remainder at Robina. The NSW games would be played at the Bears’ latest home, Gosford, with another at North Sydney Oval, the club’s spiritual home.
Norths played their last stand alone game back in 1999 before entering the ill-fated Northern Eagles mergers with Manly.
Central Coast Council and North Sydney Council welcomed news the Bears could soon play games again at Gosford and Cammeray.
“The council and community would love for the North Sydney Bears to be back in the NRL competition,” said Robert Emerson, North Sydney Council’s Director of Open Space and Environmental Services. “If the Bears were to be based on the Gold Coast, we would welcome them back to their spiritual home at North Sydney Oval, and would love to see them continue to play some games here in the NRL.”
And Mike Dowling, Central Coast Council Group Leader of Assets, Infrastructure and Business, added: “Council would welcome any top-flight rugby league games to Central Coast Stadium, having hosted recent trial matches as well as a number of regular season fixtures in 2016. Currently, we enjoy a great partnership with the Sydney Roosters who have utilised Central Coast Stadium and are strong supporters of grassroots rugby league in the region.”
Some NRL officials are concerned about another possible brand change for Gold Coast, who, since 1988, have been known as the Giants, Seagulls, Chargers, Gladiators and Titans.