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The only takeover that will save Titans

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IT’S crunch time on the Gold Coast.

The club is coachless and seemingly cursed. There’s Jarryd ‘the pain’ Hayne and a front office under fire.

But that’s not all.

As its stocks plummet, the ‘for sale’ sign is ready to go up. The NRL is taking the turbulent Titans to market, with a November 1 deadline looming large.

And there are potential suitors staying committed, despite recent events.

It’s been a tough time for Titans CEO Graham Annersley.

One interested buyer is a group led by Titans board members, including former part-owner Darryl Kelly.

But the glitter strip could be turned red and black, if the North Sydney Bears have their way.

The heritage club is also in the running.

And that’s the only way forward, according to Queensland-based Norths legend Billy Moore.

He believes the Bears bid is the solution.

“Yet again the sporting business model on the Gold Coast looks to be flawed,” he told foxsports.com.au.

“What the Bears do, we bring a solution. We bring a different business model.

“If you are able to couple up the Gold Coast franchise with the North Sydney Bears’ tradition, history and fan base, all of a sudden you have the impetus of a hundred thousand-plus fans being directly interested and buying into this new entity.”

Bears General Manager and past-player Greg Florimo is heading North Sydney’s bid.

Moore’s referring to a population of ‘dormant’ rugby league fans.

The Bears have been in hibernation since 1999, searching for a pathway back to the NRL.

And while supporters know better than to get too excited just yet, there is merit and momentum with this bid.

For those catching up, the NRL took hold of the Gold Coast licence in 2015, rescuing the club from serious financial strain.

And the governing body is ready to send the Titans back into the wild.

But should it be handed back to Kelly’s consortium? Moore has serious doubts.

“What’s the difference between new owners of the Gold Coast Titans to the past?” Moore asked.

“If you walk the same road, you’re going to see the same things.

“You can put lipstick on a pig, but what?

“Let’s just look at the Gold Coast’s history of sporting franchises. The business model is not sustainable and doesn’t work. There is no example of the business model of a Gold Coast stand-alone entity being able to survive.

Gold Coast Titans board member Darryl Kelly will spearhead the Titans’ consortium.

“You look at what’s happened at the Suns. That’s being artificially propped up by the AFL.

“You look at what’s happened with every other Gold Coast sporting franchise, including rugby league. It has been basically a graveyard.

“And that’s, fundamentally, where the Bears can help out.

“You have two communities, or entities, working together for a long-term, sustainable solution.”

Of course, the NRL would quiver at the thought of a fourth failed start-up on the Gold Coast.

The Titans’ time in the top grade has now lasted 11 seasons. But support has plateaued. Success has been scarce.

That’s why Moore sees the bid as a perfectly-timed opportunity. He pleads with the NRL not to focus on the negatives.

“How much is the Gold Coast Titans IP (intellectual property) worth?” Moore asks.

“If it comes down to simply rebranding, god help us.

“That, to me, can’t be anywhere near valuable enough to say, ‘no, we’re not going to enter into a conversation with the North Sydney Bears.’

Billy Moore with former teammate Greg Florimo (right).

“We have private investors who are prepared to put in a large sum of money. You have our Leagues Clubs as well, and you have the North Sydney junior base and the Gold Coast junior base, which will feed through for one thing — a Gold Coast Rugby League franchise NRL team.

“No business turns away a hundred thousand customers trying to get into your shopfront. That’s not smart business.

“Who loses with the Bears merging with the Gold Coast? Tell me who possibly loses.”

It’s expected the NRL will hand over the keys to the successful suitor on November 1.

And North Sydney’s club chairman Perry Lopez addressed members on Wednesday night.

So the process is about to really ramp up.

As for the Bears’ bid; “we’re strong and we’re ready to go.”

Originally published as The only takeover that will save Titans

Source: sports dailytelegraph

About Eric Tranter

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