Parra to put cash before points

Parramatta StadiumThe Parramatta Eels club are currently in talks to move their opening round Friday night match against the Dragons to ANZ Stadium Homebush to cater to an estimated 40,000 fans.

But what price can a club put on a homeground advantage? What is the cost of 2 competition points?

While there is never any guarantee that a home side will win, surely Paul Osborne and the Eels officials understand that playing at Parramatta Stadium in front of 20,000 predominantly Eels fans gives his side a much greater edge over the Dragons?

Cast your mind back to the first round of the NRL finals last year. The Eels faced the Dragons and while the 8th place Parramatta side upset Minor Premiers St George Illawarra in that match, there was no way the Saints were relinquishing their homeground and rightly so.

Playing at home is a major advantage, but sides like the Eels and more recently the Wests Tigers continue to take the cash over the advantage and move their games to grounds such as ANZ at Homebush.

The other consideration is the ticketed members. Club fans pre-purchased their season tickets and while they are provided seats at the alternate venue, its never the same as the home ground. This potential move to ANZ is a slap in the face for Eels members as they prepare to watch their team in Round 1.

The Dragons on the other hand would be loving the opportunity to rally up 15,000 – 20,000 fans to overthrow the homeground advantage the Eels had. They would be crazy not to gather in big numbers and turn this totally into an away game for the Parramatta side.

While NRL clubs are regularly under financial pressure and cannot resist the pay day of large gate takings offered by ANZ Stadium, sometimes they need to think of the bigger picture.

By forfeiting the home ground, you put a lesser value on the 2 competition points. And as we all know, in the closest competition of all, 2 points in many cases means the difference between making the Top 8 and missing the finals. Just ask the Wests Tigers who learnt that the hard way last season.

It’s a case of short term pain for longer gain, a securing of the 2 points will mean much more of a payday many weeks down the line.

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