Next club in the NRL?

The NRL's league expansion committee is to decide today whether to expand their competition in 2006 and if so, who will get the nod.

The Gold Coast, Central Coast and Wellington have all presented final bids. The Wellington-based bid is considered a long shot behind the consortiums from the Gold Coast and Central Coast.

It has been widely reported in Australia that existing clubs will vote against expansion.

John Singleton, head of the Central Coast bid, was overseas and unavailable for comment. But Singleton has already said he believes the ARL half of the partnership will vote to keep the competition at 15 clubs while the News Ltd half will make a business decision.

"We ain't going away," said New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) director Andrew Chalmers when asked if he would pack up his bags if the status quo was maintained.

"That second New Zealand team will be beneficial in terms of growing the game and the contribution to an international audience."

Gold Coast bid head Paul Broughton believes the current level of nine Sydney sides in the 15-team competition is unsustainable.

"There's been 11 clubs that have gone into demise or lost their identities since 1998," Broughton pointed out.

"In some stage in the future Sydney won't be able to sustain the number of teams they have now. Sydney can't develop any further.

"The one thing we've got over everybody else is that it's not just one team, one city it's one code, one city and the fastest growing city in Australia."

The decision from the National Rugby League's partnership committee should be known later today.

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