News that the North Sydney Bears are intent on a return to the NRL may be a bit premature, as the target date for the club is 2024.
The entire island of Australia, or continent, if you insist, could well be submerged by that time, or reunited with Antarctica.
How the NRL would deal with a 17-club fixture was one of the prime questions in our minds.
The answer lies in the adoption of a relegation scheme similar to that used by the English Super League.
If such a thing were in effect at the moment, the Parramatta Eels would find themselves in exile, provided that a new club such as North Sydney were able to win more than six games in a season, or do something about the -176 point differential from the Telstra 2018 NRL Premiership competition.
A new TV deal goes into effect in 2023 and everyone who has not been living under a rock for the past 30 years knows that the revenues from broadcast right carry far more significance than do the bums passing through the turnstiles.
North Sydney CEO David Perry envisions a NRL made up of two-12 team divisions, with two sides demoted and the two top clubs from the second-grade being promoted.
Perry, in support of his position, claims that the system in place at the moment is not up to par and he has to be commended for seeing that a 17-club NRL would prove unwieldly, just as the AFL has its issue with 18.
“I think the relegation system would be an important step for the game,” Perry told foxsports.com.au. He did not specifically mention any clubs that would be out, but he did acknowledge the necessity of having an even number of clubs.
“You need 12 and 12, so 24 key markets, and stricter criteria about those clubs around their funding model which means all of the 24 may not fit the top tier criteria, it may only be 16-18 franchises that make the cut, their catchment areas, their population, and their commercial growth.”
Expanding from 16 to 24 might be a bit of a stretch, as other codes have discovered when expansion resulted in a serious dilution of the quality of the new clubs, which struggled to find enough talented players.