Gold Coast Entry On The Agenda

The NRL's decision makers will discuss the Gold Coast's bid for a place in the premiership at a meeting next month after the consortium concerned impressed officials in Sydney.

Consortium member Michael Searle presented the Coast's business plan to NRL chief executive David Gallop and finance director Ed Farish and left with the promise their credentials would be raised at next month's partnership executive committee (PEC) meeting.

The PEC - a partnership between the Australian Rugby League and News Ltd - decides the future direction of the premiership.

"It went really well," Searle said.

"It was well received by David. The next step from here is to present the business plan and the model to the partnership executive committee in September.

"David advised today the Gold Coast expansion will go on the (PEC) agenda."

The Coast are bidding to play in the 2006 premiership and hope to receive the green light by the end of September this year.

Searle believes their business plan would make the Coast one of the strongest clubs in the NRL from a financial perspective.

It involves the club being owned by five shareholders who would each throw in $1.5 million initially as working capital in return for 1.5 million $1 shares in the company.

The consortium already has three of the five shareholders standing by and is in negotiations with a further two potential part owners.

"To be honest, having that sort of equity gave the NRL a lot of confidence," Searle said.

"We're targeting 2006.

"I think that's a reasonable target. I am sure some would like it sooner. But I am sure given the lessons from the past ... it would be irresponsible of our group to jump in in 2005.

If an opportunity came we would be mad not to look at it. Our model is ready to go, our finance is ready to go."

Gallop described the Gold Coast's business plan as a good update.

"They put a bit of meat on the bone," Gallop said.

"I always update them (PEC) on the Gold Coast and the Central Coast."

Searle also confirmed the consortium had begun sounding out staff for the venture, including player agent Wayne Beavis over the prospects of having Brad Fittler as coach.

Searle, who played seven seasons with the old Gold Coast franchise, also indicated the club could consider making an approach to Brisbane five-eighth Ben Ikin to join the support staff in some capacity.

Ikin, who's retiring at the end of the season, is a Gold Coast junior and played six games with the Chargers before joining North Sydney.

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