The Bears have gone public with their bid to become the NRL’s 18th franchise, revealing a new abbreviated name that drops their North Sydney branding 22 years after they were forced out of the competition.
After the NRL earlier this month confirmed the Dolphins, who beat Queensland rivals Firehawks and Jets to enter the competition in 2023, the Bears announced that they want to be the next team to enter the competition.
An 18th franchise will be on the NRL’s radar in the future, and it’s certainly no secret, after CEO Andrew Abdo confirmed it would make sense to expand the competition’s weekly matches.
“Seventeen is a natural springboard for 18,” Abdo said earlier this month. “At the age of 18, we have another match, which offers a completely different opportunity for our fans.”
A report by The Sydney Morning claims that the Bears outlined their plan for the NRL five months ago, but chose to keep it a secret during the league’s search for a new Queensland franchise.
Part of the bid will see the club known as the “Bears”, after a new logo released, reject the iconic North Sydney branding.
It is understood that the club will still be based in northern Sydney, but part of the offer will see the team head out to regional NSW areas such as Dubbo, Coffs Harbor, Wagga Wagga, Central Coast and Tamworth.
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Bears chairman Daniel Dickson spoke about his enthusiasm for the bid.
“We want to be reintroduced as the 18th team, as a team of the people,” Dickson said Sydney Morning Herald.
“We think it’s the best rugby league history in 20 years.
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“This slows down the game’s growth by re-engaging with 220,000 fans. If you start a new franchise, you have several years to grow your fan base.
“This is an existing, 113-year-old national brand of heritage, heart and history. All we have to do is give it a platform.”
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The Bears last played in the NRL in 1999 after being forced out and have since been the food club for the Sydney Roosters.
The club merged in 2000 with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles to form the Northern Eagles, but it only lasted until 2002.
Part of the Dolphins’ bid to become the NRL’s 17th franchise was to cancel a $ 50 million bank guarantee for the first five years.
To prove they can be financially stable, the Bears have been backed by The North Sydney Leagues Club as a long-term sponsor.
It is understood that more are also open to a private ownership model.
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