Suburban footy should be axed: Richardson

There is nothing better than the feeling a fan gets, stepping into a stadium that is iconic not only to their league team, but to the NRL in general.

For many fans, playing at suburban grounds is what is best for their clubs. The smaller, but historic grounds, that create a huge euphoria and sense of atmosphere, when supporting your club.

For South Sydney CEO Shane Richardson however, he believes that the use of suburban grounds in the NRL has to cease, and says that all NRL clubs should consider the idea of dumping their suburban grounds, and using ANZ or Allianz Stadium, as their long-term home venue.

“Personally I think we need two stadiums, but I am comfortable with three,” Richardson said.’

“I just think it’s the way the game is going. What you’re doing is like a salmon swimming against the tide, except the tide is Niagara Falls.

“You can swim against it for as long as you want, but until we have an across-the-board policy on this, everyone has to catch and kill their own. We’re all trying to maximise the money we get out of the game.

“People say they love going to Leichhardt Oval, and while that’s great for people who go to Leichhardt, we want new people to the game.

“They want to go to a stadium that is secure, where they have a seat, good toilet facilities, great public transport – that’s how we get people coming to our game.

“Do you think there wasn’t a backlash when we moved away from the SFS? Do you think there wasn’t a backlash when we weren’t able to play at Redfern Oval?

“Do you think there wasn’t a backlash from the Collingwood fans (after the move from Victoria Park)?

“Do you think there wasn’t a backlash from Wests Tigers when they moved games to (Allianz) away from Campbelltown?

“But why did they do it? To grow revenue. It’s better than losing a club.”

With WIN Jubilee recently undergoing $30 million worth of upgrades, retaining the history is key in the Dragons minds. For CEO Peter Doust, although he knows that suburban grounds are where the fans love watching footy – he too concedes that it may be an option for clubs long-term.

“We can’t stick our heads in sand – economics are important,” Doust said.

“It would (cause an uproar if we moved). Fans have celebrated and enjoyed the great passion of our home grounds but rugby league is a professional sport and a lot of fans respect quality amenities.

“We may not be able to continue upgrading our grounds so I can see some difficulties ahead.”

One rugby league boss against it though, is Sharks Chairman Damian Irvine.

“My feeling is it would be poorly received by our supporter base. I can see the merit financially but you just can’t keep trying to grab the dollar.”

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