This is my toughest battle yet. I played a lot of rugby league but the battle for an opportunity to bid for an NRL licence has been the toughest game of my career.

A great old brand… a huge rugby league nursery. League fans, you know this make sense

The history is well known. The Bears were forced into an unhappy merger with the Manly Sea Eagles after the Super League war, the partnership broke down and one of the League’s foundation clubs was left stateless.

But it is the future that really matters – and the opportunity for the new Commission to make a simple decision that will lock rugby league into one of its emerging heartlands while paying respect to our great game’s traditions.

For the past three years I have been working with a group of loyal supporters to establish the Central Coast Bears in the Rugby League heartland of Gosford, NSW.

It would be an under-statement to describe this as an effort of extreme perseverance and passion, the core ingredients in any pursuit. This has propelled our bid into a position of strong consideration with the Australian Rugby League Commission’s strategy for growth of the game.

It is our job now to show the ARLC that expansion of the game is fundamental to the growth of the game. We think our case is compelling.

If expansion is to take place, it has to be for the right reasons. Progressing Rugby League can be achieved in many ways, however if the game itself is to be sustainable then the attention to and the development of grassroots is vital.

For us to even consider taking the game to the far reaches of our continent and beyond, we need to be sure that there is a continual flow of top class players into the system.

The level of athleticism and courage shown by our players today make the game the spectacle that it is, and those qualities are hard-earned and not just everybody can play like Greg Inglis. The Central Coast Bears could catapult any one of over 7,000 registered players to the heights of a Greg Inglis.

We recognise there are concerns from some existing clubs that an extra team on the Central Coast will drain resources. But the reality is that leaving the Central Coast without a club will drive youngsters to other codes like soccer and AFL.

It is up to us to show the Commission that we will not impact on current revenues within the game, that we will in fact generate new income through sponsors and advertisers, and also through re-engaging the heritage of the Bears brand.

It is up to us to ensure that we do not weaken the competition by stretching player or coaching ranks, in fact we will broaden the base of talented players simply by providing an added opportunity to play at the top level.

It is up to us to prove to the existing clubs that we won’t impact on their financial capability, in fact we will only add to their bottom line when they host the Bears at their home ground. It is up to us.

But I am confident that the Central Coast Bears bid can clear all these hurdles.

You may have heard much of this dialogue before. While there has not as yet been any invitation from the NRL/ARLC to submit our plans for the Central Coast Bears, we are hopeful that it is just around the corner.

That’s why we are asking for all League fans to petition the new Commission to make clear their expansion plans before the end of the 2012 season. We think all those preparing for expansion deserve to know what the path to expansion looks like.

For 12 years we have fought the good fight. We have built the club to this point so that it is merely the stroke of a pen needed to bring it to life. Our membership continues to grow with over 7,800 members – with more than 26,000 supporters on Facebook.

We have a tailor made facility for playing Rugby League, Bluetongue Stadium which has to be one of the best Stadiums in the game for viewing, and don’t forget the massive event that would be Central Coast Bears v Manly at North Sydney Oval.

In so many ways, a team on the Central Coast wearing Bears colours could only add strength to Rugby League. It remains my toughest challenge, but I will not be giving up as long the red and black stuff pumps through my veins.

Do you agree with Greg or are there other areas you feel are more worthy of a new NRL team? We’re super keen to hear from you before comments on this post close at 8pm AEST

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46 comments

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    • Greg says:

      11:38am | 07/09/12

      If League wants to expand they need to move into untapped areas, there is no point making more teams in NSW, it would be like putting a new AFL team in Frankston or Moe completly pointless.

      But the brains trust at the NRL don’t want to move aghead and tackle other codes in their heartlands and when they do all the rusted on league blokes will treat them like they treat the storm, like they don’t belong

    • Richard says:

      12:11pm | 07/09/12

      No? That makes no sense… And history shows it. Why put a team in a place where there is no grassroots support for it? Look at it this way: which of the following new teams is more successful, the gold coast titans or the gold coast suns? Once you figure out the answer to that one, try to ponder on why that is so.

    • Greg says:

      12:39pm | 07/09/12

      Last I heard the titans we’re going bust?

      There was no grassroots support for the swans or the bears when they started either.  When you realise that true expansion is about conquering untapped markets and expanding into new areas not just side shifting to cover more of your existing area.  Once you figure out the answer to that one, try to ponder why the NRL is always seeming to be behind the 8 ball.

      Even a second team in NZ would be a better expansion than yet another NSW team.

    • Budz says:

      12:48pm | 07/09/12

      I agree. There is already a team in Manly and Newcastle, why would you put another team in between those in such a small area. The population is low therefore TV ratings aren’t going to increase much.
      Just don’t see it/

      #FreeErick

    • why bother says:

      12:55pm | 07/09/12

      It’s amazing how so many people involved in rugby league are suckers for the fixed pie economic fallacy.

    • Little Joe says:

      01:12pm | 07/09/12

      @ Greg

      Totally disagree!!!

      Play to your strengths and don’t abandon your loyal supporters.

      My belief is that the next four NRL teams should be -

      1) Central Coast Bears
      2) Ipswich Jets (maybe bring back the old Newtown colours to NRL)
      3) Redcliffe Dolphins
      4) Mackay Mariners

      Ipswich Jets with Newtown colours, even use blue away colours, would be a great idea as a lot of current Newtown supporters would go to the game ..... like what happened with the Brisbane / Fitzroy merger

    • S.L says:

      11:39am | 07/09/12

      As a Coastie I applaud your efforts Greg but the Coast wants a Coast team and not a transplanted Sydney identity!
      The Mariners soccer team is the Central Coast and that’s it!
      Former NRL head honcho David Gallup when asked about the Central Coast would only answer (expansion is not in our plans).
      The NRL are on it’s 3rd go on the Gold Coast and I’ll bet a years wages on Perth getting a Guernsey before the Bears.
      Change the name to a Coast specific identity and I’m sure you’ll get more support…..............

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      12:24pm | 07/09/12

      With ya there SL.  I’m a Coastie too and to me the Bears will always be North Sydney.  We need a Central Coast formed club that recruits form the various CC League teams like Ourimbah, Terrigal etc and their respective junior clubs.  Only then will it be fully embraced by the Coast similar to the following the Mariners have.

    • RJB says:

      02:58pm | 07/09/12

      Every league fan on the Central Coast currently follows an NRL team, what reason is there to switch to this North Sydney identity. Administrators,coach,colours,emblem,name all from a non coast structure that streches down to their North Sydney oval. When the Titans were emerging they involved the people of the Gold Coast to choose colours and name and gave them some sense of a “our town” feel.

    • Al B says:

      03:48pm | 07/09/12

      I agree if the Coast wants its own team, it should be its own identity. Bears will only be the second team for RL fans on the Coast with that name imo. Sorry Greg and the bears folks, but i think it may be the case.
      What happened to the Storm backed NSWRL club? Promote them to NRL…

    • StanleyG says:

      04:34pm | 07/09/12

      While l can understand non bears supporters on the coast wanting a team with a central coast identity there are some considerations which overide this. If you bring in the central coast dolphins or whatever you lose corporate support and a fan base from the harbour bridge to berowra which would be worth ,lm sure,many many millions of dollars, not to mention the support of norths leagues club.And don’t forget Bluetongue Stadium was built by money from and the initiative of norths. And drop this phallacy about norths being a transplanted side, they planned to establish themselves on the coast long before they were financially troubled,it was just that the planning was appalling. And with the F3 the central coast is almost part of Sydneys north anyway. I’ll admit to some bias because l played and coached in the area for many years and now live five minutes from the stadium at Gosford but until the bears are back all my football passion will be directed to the Saints(St. Kilda that is).

    • Sam says:

      05:28pm | 07/09/12

      I appreciate this arguement but at the same time have a chuckle to myself about it every time. The faact is there is no consortium on the Central Coast making any bids to be a Centraql Coast based NRL team. The bears is all there is and they have done a fine job in building a CC identity, whilst keeping their traditional roots.

      So to all the coasties who constantly make this arguement, pull your finger out and do soemthing rather than jsut sitting there and waiting for someone else to do it for you

    • col says:

      06:34pm | 07/09/12

      gallop is not there anymore last I saw it was john Grant leading up the commission.. might just find he has different ideas..also it’s a financial sustainable plan to have the team called the Central Coast Bears.. you will have 1 million catchment area as opposed to 300 000..the Bears will win this, the colours were originally red and black on the CC and only changed in 1982/83..it’s the Bears who have lead the charge to get the team on the CC and no one else..it has been the Bears for 12 years who have kept up the fight to get the CC and the NS their team and no one else..everyone can whinge and moan but it is the Bears who have done the hard yards in getting a team on the CC and NO One else..credit where credits due, they would not be even talking about expansion except the Bears have kept the battle and the fight up for 12 years..

    • Arnold Layne says:

      11:45am | 07/09/12

      While I feel for the Bears and the way they were shafted by all and sundry during the Super League war, particularly Manly, I just can’t see their resurrection happening.  It reminds me a lot of Tasmania’s attempts to get a team into the AFL.  While there’s no doubting the passion and love for the game in the area, there’s just not the infrastructure, numbers or corporate market to sustain it.  Tassie has done well with its arrangements with Hawthorn and now North so perhaps that’s the direction the Bears should go?

      The League Commission have made it pretty clear that expansion isn’t on the horizon and even if it was they’d be more likely to go to Perth and/or a second Brisbane team.  League has to build a sustained business model that isn’t reliant on poker machines for the survival of some of its clubs, sure up its base and get its house well and truly in order before looking to add more clubs again.  The player depth not being there is just one of the issues the game faces.

      Good on you for keeping the Bears’ name alive Greg, but I just can’t see it happening.

    • Paul says:

      12:42pm | 07/09/12

      “there’s just not the infrastructure, numbers or corporate market to sustain it.”

      Wrong on all counts.

      A purpose-built stadium been touted for years with an offer to pay for part/all of it if only the central coast has a first grade footy team.

      The numbers are phenomenal with 10k plus to the Bears games… they aren’t even first grade.  Along with that the central coast has the strongest per capita junior footy league of any area in Australia (even beating leagues in QLD).

      As for corporate market… you have to be kidding me.  You haven’t been to the central coast have you?  Additionally, the council support (paying to build a stadium etc.) is as good as you could get anywhere.

      If the NRL doesn’t get onto this opportunity though it won’t be there forever.

    • Col says:

      07:05pm | 07/09/12

      Arnold word is Tassie get the 19th AFL licence and Perth(2) will get the 20th in the next round of expansion.. and thats another point, if western australia will have 3 AFL teams eventually, plus a soccer team plus a rugby union team, wheres the dollars for a NRL team..whats the pop of perth just over a mil?? the CC and the NS have 1 mil combined and no national sport on the NS and only the mariners on the CC and they are the Summer sport..think?? financially and sustainability..

    • David says:

      11:46am | 07/09/12

      You know as a Manly fan I sorta miss the Bears.
      Pretty well a guaranteed win for us whenever we met Norths in a finals match.
      Don’t miss the shotgun marriage though.

    • Col says:

      07:11pm | 07/09/12

      ..smile Oooh if I recall david I think you only met us in the one finals match I might be wrong but it was 1991.. and I believe we won it smile

    • Last Man Standing says:

      11:50am | 07/09/12

      Bears on the Coast is best of both worlds - tradition and growth. Look at Sydney Swans - they go to Melbourne and have all thee diehards ...

    • Hmmmm says:

      12:03pm | 07/09/12

      Ok so leaving all the nostalgia behind lets look at the facts.
      Note : I do not live in the area.

      According to the wiki the Central Coast has a population of roughly 300, 000 people. Tassie is around 500K by comparison.
      The current largest team in the area, the Mariners have attracted between 7000-10000 fans per game on average over the last few years.
      In 1990 the average crowd for an NRL game was 10, 000, however it is now 16, 000. Norths in their last year had an aveage of 8-9000 people attending per game.
      You need quite sizable Corporate support, The Titans had it and 15K members from memory and they are not doing so well. Does the area have enough Local Business’s to support this for 10+ years. You can’t survive off the TV rights alone.

      On the plus side it looks like the local North Sydney Bears team is doing exceptionally well with some crowds peaking over 10,000 which is impressive for a non-NRL game in anyones talk.

      So to wrap up, you are going to need around 5000 more fans at the absolute minimum, preferable really 10, 000 to be sustainable.
      You need the long term sustainable local Business’s to stop talking and pony up the money for a minimum of 10 years without killing themselves in the process and you need the NRL to step up the local development in the area. AFL is killing every sport in this regard because they spend the money.

      Good luck, always liked the Bears, you guys had the best Jersey for sure.

    • Ben C says:

      02:38pm | 07/09/12

      John Singleton’s been very vocal in the past about having a rugby league team on the Central Coast, so the corporate sponsorship is there if it gets off the ground.

    • Col says:

      06:40pm | 07/09/12

      why look at just the last year of 1999 for the Bears, that was our worse year because we were being shafted and we could see it happening, go back through the 90s and see what the Bears drew..including one game I was at at North sydney oval where 23000 turned up and the kids had to sit inside the oval fence.it’ll work becaus eit is the Bears, it’s not just 300 000 pop it is alsi the 700 000 on the north shore, thats why its the Bears, you have to sustain it.. Bears fans will travel but I wont be travelling to see a team called the crusaders, the dolphins or any other moniker, because its the Bears we will follow.see you at the Bears den..

    • Matt says:

      12:06pm | 07/09/12

      Bring Back the Bears

    • Neutral says:

      12:13pm | 07/09/12

      This why you’re getting left behind NRL, too much faffing about. Just DO it!! Would like to see the bears back and being up the road a bit is much if a muchness..

    • TimB says:

      01:29pm | 07/09/12

      The problem is they ‘just did it’ in the mid 90’s.

      South Queensland Crushers, Western Reds, Adelaide Rams, Hunter Mariners…only the Western Reds are still around in any form (junior leagues) today.

      Then toss in the dumped & reinstated South Sydney, the resurrection of the Gold Coast, the teams lost through the mergers of Wests/Balmain & St George/Illawarra (and North Sydney)....

      Expansion is necessary I agree with you, and it saddens me that no movement appears to be on the cards until at least 2017. But there is an argument to be made for moving too far too fast.

    • Newt says:

      03:47pm | 07/09/12

      Do it properly too I guess. I think the horse has bolted in a lot of ways.

    • Newt says:

      03:48pm | 07/09/12

      Do it properly too I guess. I think the horse has bolted in a lot of ways.

    • Richard says:

      12:14pm | 07/09/12

      I support this idea.

    • TimB says:

      12:32pm | 07/09/12

      ‘That’s why we are asking for all League fans to petition the new Commission to make clear their expansion plans before the end of the 2012 season.’

      Sorry to break it to you Greg, but the Commission has already clarified those plans in the recent rights deal- No expansion betwen now and 2017. I agree, it sucks.

      I really hope the Bears come back in some form, although I’d love to see a team in Perth too. I think that may make more sense long term in terms of growth.

    • Levi of Bris says:

      01:25pm | 07/09/12

      4 new teams needed ASAP. Perth, PNG, Central QLD and a new NZ team.

      Perth is a no brainer considering there is now huge expat populations of QLD and NSW people over there. The local league comp there is doing really well I watched a few when I was living over there.

      Forget Adelaide, no one even knows the difference between League and Union down there. They’re all fairies and murderers anyway.

      League is the undisputed national sport of PNG. They are crazy for it. The whole country would be behind them. I’m sure if the NRL just gave them the cash it would rapidly become a self sustaining team and be a massive success.

      Auckland warriors have been going well lately. Good support over there from the Kiwis and with the success of their national team recently you could definitely justify another team to promote the huge amount of natural talent they have. Would kill two brids with one stone too by helping prevent Kiwi born players trying to play for Australia. They would be far more keen to represent their own country if it was more lucrative.

      Central Qld is also a League heartland. A team there could represent everyone from north of Bundaberg all the way up to Mackay, and westwards past Moranbah, Clermont and Emerald to encompass the growing populations in the mining centres.

      Forget Central Coast, don’t need any new NSW teams. Ipswich not big enough and a new Brisbane team I feel would just not be accepted by Brisbanites considering the massive level of support the Broncos have. I don’t see the point in trying to split Brisbanes fan base.

      Either way if the new commission have really ruled out expansion until 2017 they are making a massive mistake and are only going to see AFL expand at their expense.

    • AFR says:

      01:53pm | 07/09/12

      PNG? Oh, you’re serious?

      Next two teams will be Perth and SE QLD somewhere.

    • TimB says:

      02:14pm | 07/09/12

      You know, your talk of the level of Kiwi support has got me thinking. There’s a pile of Kiwi born players in the NRL and many of them make themselves available for Australia instead purely so they can play SoO.

      Would there be enough depth for a Kiwi Origin series? North Island vs South Island? I dunno what the demographics are like, maybe it’s unfeasable.

      The other option I thought of a while ago is to turn Origin into a 3-way series between NSW, QLD and NZ. But that mucks with a lot of tradition and ups the number of games in the series by a substantial amount…

    • sunny says:

      01:35pm | 07/09/12

      Good luck, personally I’d like to see a Central Coast team in the comp. Though I heard someone or other in the top brass of the NRL say that more teams would just dilute the NRL brand. Basically there is not the market for a ninth game - after eight games including Monday night the public are over it for that week.

      So… why don’t the NRL have a second division, with promotion / relegation? There would surely be enough regions in NSW / Qld to provide a second division. Introduce a few new regions like Perth into this division as well to get them adjusted to the game. If the Bears are serious then they just fight their way to the top of second division and move into the NRL. And the beauty of it is that slack arses like Parramatta get turfed down to second division taking their superstar players with them. Also they could promote / relegate six weeks prior to end of regular season to give the promoted team six weeks to adjust to NRL standard at the end of the season.

    • Col says:

      06:59pm | 07/09/12

      when David Hill was head of the ABC he bought in saturday live games on the ABC of league.. it went nationally and it went live.and was the highest rating show on the ABC at the time.. where did Rugby League loose the plot.. I ask you..??

    • Robert says:

      01:37pm | 07/09/12

      I have lived in North Sydney for the last 23 years and, whilst I am a Union man at heart, I always enjoyed seeing the Bears play at North Sydney Oval and regularly took non League/Union friends along and introduced quite a few women to the game.

      Since the Bears got bumped I have not watched a game live or on TV. I no longer have any interest in the code.

      I wish you well Greg but I am afraid I (and I suspect many others) am lost forever.

    • MF says:

      01:54pm | 07/09/12

      I’m a Bears fan and living in Perth. Bringing back the Bears to first grade and/or putting a team in Perth would make me happy!

      I suspect bringing a team to Perth will be more likely. I suspect there’s enough east coast transplants out here to justify it.

    • AFR says:

      01:56pm | 07/09/12

      Sorry, Greg, the Bears went broke a generation ago after having bugger all success on or off the field.

      Newtown has found a niche in NSW Cup, you couild look to their example.

    • Swamp Thing says:

      02:03pm | 07/09/12

      Yes indeed. I’m praying for the mining boom to collapse so all you useless eastcoast blown ins get to run back east!

    • Michael S says:

      02:31pm | 07/09/12

      Most sports fans in the Central Coast would already have a rugby league team. The question is whether they would be prepared to switch their allegiance to the Bears.
      If there’s 7,800 paid-up members already for a club that doesn’t exist, they’ve got a reasonable case for inclusion.

    • Jon DC says:

      03:42pm | 07/09/12

      Let’s get the facts first. 7000 juniors, 7800+ financial members, a groundswell of local businesses and corporate partners on board as sponsors, 26,000+ FB fans, Bluetongue Stadium which was built from the Bears finances, a traditional link between Central Coast and Bears stretching back to 1908, government support for training facilities and sports centers, interstate support. They have been fighting a fight for all us fans. Stand alone CC team won’t work, Bears have the playing rights for Bluetongue since they built the bloody thing! Remember this!

    • Ret says:

      03:51pm | 07/09/12

      Simple-get rid of Melbourne. This experiment has failed (it was only ever set up to give Ribot a job post Super League). After all the on-field success that the Storm have enjoyed, their support base is stagnant,they have produced one local player, receive minimal media coverage in their home city, and cost the NRL millions every year to keep them viable. The Bears actually have a loyal following, in a Rugby League area. Bring ‘em back.

    • beowulf says:

      04:10pm | 07/09/12

      There are both moral and economic reasons why the bears should be in ASAP.  A non cc bears side is impossible…. no corporates and a relatively small population. The bears bring crowds to Sydney grounds and a huge corporate base. John Quayle looked at the bid and said its urgent they are brought in asap.Think he knows more than others on here!

    • ted says:

      04:22pm | 07/09/12

      “For us to even consider taking the game to the far reaches of our continent and beyond…..”

      I support your efforts for the CC Bears however as for expansion, no one is interested beyond parts of NSW, QLD, south Auckland rugby rejects and northern England.

    • Laura says:

      04:46pm | 07/09/12

      It will be central queensland for sure. It’s a fair bit overdue really. An incredible amount of talent and support is found in CQ, it’s the heart really.  It’s about time the drain from CQ got plugged, both in rugby league and in the wider community. A rugby league team there would do so much to promote a positive community dynamic and a sustained community, and of course finally reap the rewards of the mining boom, rather than seeing everything exit the region, as it usually does.
      A new stadium has been fully funded and planned with a capacity of up to 20,000… and the population is mad for rugby league! Seems like the right thing to do on all fronts.

    • Col says:

      06:52pm | 07/09/12

      what people are forgetting is that david hill back in 1991 as president of the Bears put the word out that a relocation to gosford was likely..and he was all for it.. If david hill had of been running the club in 97/98/99.. the Central Coast Bears would have been playing on the CC for the past 12 years.. dont forget that..and possibly 2 premierships under their belt by now… the reason why the Bears got into financial difficulty is because they BUILT Bluetongue stadium..all the Bears had to do was play 1 game at gosford in 99.. and we would have been there for the past decade..but their was a deadline for the criteria for a 14 team comp.for 2000. and instead of helping the Bears and the CC have their team the NRL let them fall.. unlike teams like Cronulla, Melbourne, Auckland, etc etc who had lifeline after lifeline, the Bears didnt get 1..all the Bears wanted was the one chance.. and now we are going to make that happen..the Central Coast Bears as the 17th licence.. if you dont wish to follow fine, continue following the NRL team you are now.. there will always be another child on the CC in their red and black jersey who will take your seat at the Stadium the BEARS built.

    • Bill says:

      07:24pm | 07/09/12

      While the NRL merely talks about expansion (and even then, only into areas where they already have support), the AFL has actually been doing something about confirming its status as the national code with new teams in enemy territory.

      Until the NRL is able to put another team in Melbourne (and actually put just one side in SA or WA), it will always be known as a provincial sport with minimal support outside its home base.

 

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