Extra team put on hold

The NRL partnership executive discussed the issue of whether the NRL should pursue a 16th team today.

The partnership has agreed further analysis should be conducted by the NRL in relation to the areas keen to join the Telstra Premiership and in relation to the impact such a team would have on the existing 15 clubs and the game generally.

In asking for this information, the partnership, acknowledges that if a team were to be added in 2006, that the longest possible notice should be given to any successful consortium.

The partnership noted submissions from the Gold Coast, the Central Coast and Wellington but the bulk of today's discussion was around the general principle of a 16th team rather than the competing merits of these areas.

"This is the first time the partnership has formally discussed this issue and it was always likely that it would require more work before any formal position could be reached," NRL chief executive, David Gallop, said.

"The NRL management will prepare some more detailed analysis on the areas, the bid teams and the impact of an extra team.

"Already there have been reservations raised by the existing clubs who face extreme pressure given the State Government's new poker machine taxes, but there are also strong cases being put forward from the Central Coast, the Gold Coast and Wellington.

"While a lot had already been done in preparation for today we still need to provide further analysis for what remains an important decision.

"The costs of getting such a decision wrong could have a severe impact on the competition, the clubs and the game in general.

"We'll work as quickly as possible and the issue will be discussed further in coming months."