Gold Coast Titans’ best way to combat $27.5m AFL leg-up for Suns is to win games


Meninga last week said it was important the Titans received extra funding from the NRL, especially with the likely arrival of a second NRL club up the road in Brisbane.

“It would be nice to see them get support in some ways financially,” Meninga said. “I don’t know how the other clubs would feel about that. But you have to come up with a plan not just for the Titans, but for the game and how you make 16 teams competitive.”

The Gold Coast Suns have now received north of $250m from the AFL since their creation.Credit:AAP

Unlike the AFL, the NRL has no differential funding model, which allows struggling clubs to receive more financial support.

Former ARL Commission chairman John Grant wanted to introduce the model in 2018 and told the Herald at the time: “Tell me who thinks all clubs are equal? In the cold, hard light of day, of course not. You’ve got to give some a leg up. The best way to do that is through money.”

Watt said he would raise the issue again with the NRL but was not expecting a handout.

“The simple thing we need to do is be successful on the field – we have to build a winning record here and start to bring the fans back,” Watt told the Herald.

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“The AFL have obviously drawn a line in the sand and want to own this rugby league heartland. The [$27.5m] shows their level of commitment to own this market. It does make it very difficult and puts us at a considerable disadvantage.

“Our mission is to be successful on the national stage but also defend the game’s history in this area. There’s 110 years of rugby league history here.”

The Titans are owned by a local consortium led by Darryl and Joanne Kelly and Rebecca and Brett Frizelle.

But they, like the Suns, have struggled to make an impact on the field. They’ve made the finals just once in the past nine seasons, collected two wooden spoons, been forced to pay over the odds for players who have disappointed, including $1 million halfback Ash Taylor, and seen their membership dip 4 per cent in the past year to just 6517, a competition low.

Watt said the arrival of coach Justin Holbrook had instilled plenty of belief, and the weekend win over Brisbane was only a trial but had already provided a tremendous boost to spirits.

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