WHEN league guru Phil Gould told a captivated audience that the Western Corridor had "a magnificent bid" it was surely a huge boost to everyone involved in the push to establish an NRL club in Ipswich.
Gould, the Penrith Panthers general manager, was the keynote speaker at the Ipswich Jets' sportsman's dinner on Thursday night. Gould was also in town for the Jets' trial clash with the Panthers last night.
After his speech Gould spoke to the QT about rugby league expansion, why the Western Corridor bid could be successful and also some of the challenges it will face.
"It would be taking rugby league to a rugby league heartland where the game is extremely popular," Gould said of the Western Corridor bid.
"I've got no doubt you would have the passion and the development... and you'd have kids growing up out here wanting to play for Ipswich.
"Having seen the growth out here since when I was here last, this area has got great synergies with western Sydney where the Penrith Panthers are."
Because Brisbane is a one-team town that means there are exclusivity arrangements in place that prevent companies sponsoring the Broncos. For instance, Suncorp can't be a major sponsor because NRMA already is. That hurdle would be lifted for a range of potential sponsors if the Western Corridor came in. Gould said "the case for a second Brisbane team is glaringly obvious."
"Here in Brisbane there should have been a second team for a long time. I've been critical of that because I think the Broncos have been given special leniency because they were owned by the media company (News Ltd) that owned the game.
"But it would be good for the Broncos to have someone to compete with up here and I think Brisbane is crying out for someone else to cheer for."
The QT understands that Channel Nine is keen for either the Western Corridor or Brisbane Bombers to win an NRL licence. Gould, who works for the network, said a team in Ipswich playing out of Suncorp Stadium would be "a great boost for free-to-air TV."
"We'd have a game here every weekend rather than once a fortnight," he said.
He conceded that the greatest challenge for the Western Corridor bid would be commercial.
"Funding is the primary hurdle stopping our game from improving and developing at the grass roots level for generations to come," he said.
"It is one thing to get yourself in a position financially where you can put a team in the NRL - but you've got to put a team in there that is going to last forever.
"That is not Ipswich's problem. That is whoever governs the game's problem. They have got to understand that funding is the most important thing.
"For Ipswich, it has to be for the long haul. Out here, the western outskirts of Brisbane, it will face a commercial challenge.
"But that doesn't mean it can't be done.
"It is more than possible ... and this would be a great place to have a football team."
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