Cronulla, Manly and the Gold Coast are at risk of being axed from the NRL as the Nine Network pushes for a new Brisbane rugby league team.
The broadcaster’s director of sport Tom Malone wants to axe one existing club to make way for a new club in the Queensland capital by 2023 with the final call to be made as early as December this year.
The newspaper reports that the Sharks, Sea Eagles and the Titans are the sides who are most at risk of the chop.
“That could come from another team being relocated there, or better still another club being discontinued and a new club established in Brisbane,” Malone told the Sunday Mail.
“In a perfect world you’d probably have one or two less teams.
“What clubs should go? I’m not going to get into that one. It’s a hard decision but probably one that needs to be made in the longer term interests of the game.”
Malone says he prefers the option of axing an existing club rather than adding another club because having 17 teams and a bye each week would increase costs without generating any “incremental revenue”.
Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany supports a second team in the River City but doesn’t believe in axing an existing club.
“They love their rugby league in Brisbane and it seems a natural fit,” Mr Delany told the Sunday Mail.
“You get that intercity rivalry which enhances tribalism and that’s ultimately what we want.
“It’s all about generating more fans and bigger TV audiences. I don’t know if you’d get that real tribal traction with rugby league in Perth that you’d get in Brisbane.”