The Gold
Coast Bulletin
today summarised the latest turf war between the NRL and AFL succinctly with the
headline “Mayor Gang Tackled”. In a portent of what is to come in Queensland and New South Wales,
the AFL is preparing to take on rugby league on the Gold Coast next year,
when the Titans enter the NRL competition.

The Kangaroos AFL team last week
decided to play six matches at Carrara – the same ground the Titans will play
on in their opening season before they move to the $160 million (taxpayer
funded) stadium now under construction at Robina.

Part of the agreement between the NRL and
the Gold Coast City Council when the Titans were awarded the 16th
team licence was that the Council, as owners of the Carrara Stadium, would
reconfigure the ground to a rectangular shape – which is what league fans want and would also allow an extra 3,000 seats.

Last week, the very pro-AFL Gold Coast Mayor, Ron
Clarke, put the Titans and the NRL into a tailspin by agreeing to retain the
ground’s oval shape to accommodate the Kangaroos – with the obvious long-term
aim being to secure the Kangaroos relocation to the Gold Coast.

The Titans threatened to play their first
season’s “home” games at Lang Park, but that was just a bluff designed to force the
Gold Coast City Council to overrule its increasingly isolated and ineffective
Mayor. And the tactic worked, with the Council’s
Deputy Mayor and powerbroker, David Power, convening a meeting of senior
councillors and the Titans on Tuesday night to overrule the Mayor.

On his return yesterday, Clarke promised to
“reverse the reversed decision” but there is little chance that will happen.
When the matter comes before the full Council next week the vote may even be

With a population of close to half a
million, the Gold Coast can accommodate an NRL team and a full time AFL team, let alone a
part time one.

Round one to the NRL on the Gold Coast –
but this contest has a very long way to go.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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