DISCORD 2013: Edition 39

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD

THE Cronulla-to-Queensland story raises a couple of pressing questions for the NRL.

One: is relocation a viable model to satisfy expansion ambitions? Two: is it morally defensible to take with one hand, in the form of drugs sanctions, and then give back with the other, in the form of relocation allowances, if a club does what it’s told?

Let’s start with number one. Our game has never done relocation in a fully fledged American way, adopted here in Australian football with the Sydney Swans and Brisbane Lions (although still not quite as cleanly).

North Sydney were going to move to Gosford, but then got duck-shoved into a merger with Manly. We’ll never know how that would have gone.

So while most fans reject the idea of relocation out-of-hand, who are we to say it won’t work? It’s hard to see the people of Brisbane embracing a relocated Cronulla but in Central Queensland, where they appear behind the eight ball despite impressive infrastructure and support, it might work.

Similarly, while the WARL have done a lot of work marketing the West Coast Pirates, the Wests Coast Sharks would only grate during the summer months when those words appear all too regularly in local headlines.

Please note Discord is restricting its comments here to the two questions in the second paragraph. Plenty of other people are talking about whether it SHOULD happen.

The second issue is somewhat more vexed.

Personally, I don’t think people would swallow the administration knocking out the Sharks with one fist, and then using the other hand to pick them up, dust them off and send them wherever.

If the two processes could be separated – if ASADA could somehow be blamed for rendering Cronulla bankrupt and the NRL could portray itself as the saviour – then some fans might buy it.

But drugs penalties have to be handed down by the governing body and the NRL exploiting a terrible situation to its own ends would not play well to anyone. I don’t think this administration is that gung ho.

I have no doubt Wednesday’s story is based on some solid information. The NRL may well be tossing it around – but I can’t see it happening.

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IS Sam Tomkins signing for New Zealand Warriors the beginning of the end for Super League?

There are plenty of people in England who think so. He’s without doubt the biggest star in that competition and featured in the memorable advert with Bradley Wiggins at the start of the season.

But the NRL has been losing players to rugby union – and AFL – for years and has survived just fine. Wendell Sailor, Israel Folau, Sonny Bill Williams, Willie Mason … the list goes on.

The exchange rate is improving, Marwan Koukash at Salford seems to have a wad of cash and this new competition structure might even work.

And Matt Bowen is a sensational player.

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IN that column on Saturday, it said I didn’t want to become a “bitter, angry, aging crusader”.

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DISCORD 2013: Edition 35

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD

JUST under a decade ago, the National Rugby League made it known that a team which relocates could receive up to $11 million from the administration.

The availability of the incentive was a tacit acknowledgement that there were too many teams in Sydney but that saving the history and intellectual property of an existing team was preferable to shutting it down and starting afresh.

Then, out of nowhere, then-CEO David Gallop revealed that there would also be an incentive to stay where you were!

Gallop reckoned that saturation of the Sydney market was important in the face of encroachment from rival codes and the NRL would be willing to help prop up a team that looked likely to fall over.

Relocation, as an option for Sydney teams, was dead.

In recent weeks, we have seen it given pulmonary massage in light of the travails currently being experienced by Cronulla.

The theory is that if the club was to be sued by players who are found guilty of using illegal substances, they would quickly become insolvent. That could also happen if the NRL imposes a Draconian fine on the club in the wake of the ASADA investigation.

It’s one thing to predict the Commission would use the situation as leverage to get the club to move. But does the ARLC even favour relocation?

As things stand, the incentives for staying put are the same as moving. It’s time for the NRL administration to make its position clear on relocation.

Is it a preferred option or not? Please let us know.

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THE last two weeks, we’ve been reporting on the back and forth between the two rival bodies trying to start rugby league in Thailand.

While there is currently no league in the kingdom, it’s instructive about the issues and battles which seem to repeat themselves all over the place in our sport.

Shannon Crane, who runs the TRL, sent us a link to the League’s entry on the Thai Department of Business’ registry. He also says the rival Thailand Rugby League’s Facebook page has been closed down and insists he does reside in Thailand, not Brisbane.

We will not be continuing the back-and-forth. Case closed!

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COMMENTS time and let’s go back to last week’s column.

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