Billy Moore spruiks benefits of Bears' bid for Titans
NORTH Sydney stalwart Billy Moore has pleaded with Titans fans to see the long-term benefit of the Bears' plans to buy the Gold Coast franchise.
The North Sydney Bears are among candidates lobbying the NRL to buy the Gold Coast Titans franchise from the NRL, which needs to offload the club by the end of its financial year next month.
If successful, the group would rebrand the franchise the Gold Coast Bears and wear North Sydney's famous red and black, although the club would remain on the Gold Coast, with plans to take just one game a year to North Sydney Oval. Moore understands the angst plans to change the club's emblem and colours could cause Titans fans.
But he believes the Bears buyout is the most sustainable plan for a strong and enduring NRL franchise on the Gold Coast.
"I imagine that is for them the most difficult step forward because they've bought into the (Titans) brand and they believe in it," Moore said of existing fans' angst at plans to rebrand the club the Gold Coast Bears.
"What we're saying is that the brand is the Gold Coast more so than the Titans.
"We're offering a business model that takes being pragmatic and it takes making a compromise."
Queensland Origin legend Moore, who played 211 games for the Bears between 1989 and 1999, said there were many more positives than negatives in the Bears plan.
"Besides the IP (intellectual property), the other question I often ask is who loses by bringing the North Sydney Bears back into the competition as a partner with the Gold Coast?
"Other than the IP, where could someone find a negative in the whole equation?
"I know I'm subjective and I hope I'm not blinded by it.
"But I'm trying to work out where there's a negative because I've tried to look at it from everyone's point of view and been as objective as I can.
"I can't see how you can find a negative in the whole equation other than the potentially unpalatable thing of going, okay, we're not the Titans any more, we're still the Gold Coast, but now we're the Gold Coast Bears."
The Bears group has conducted research showing its brand remains incredibly strong despite 17 years out of the NRL and hundreds of thousands of fans are set to come out of hibernation.
"We're bringing 100,000 fans - those are in the greater south-east that have Bears connections and will obviously be coming to the games - to be married up hopefully with what (the Titans) have already got," Moore said.
"Then when the Gold Coast play in Sydney, when they play at Cronulla or Parramatta or Penrith, you're going to get another 4000-5000 Bears fans turn up.
"So the game itself is going to benefit because you're re-engaging those fans that have been hibernating.
"You've got so many people for the last 17 years have been waiting, they've been parked there.
"Those people haven't gone to other clubs.
"They've either walked away from the game or they've just basically hibernated, so they'd be re-engaged."
Moore said other bids would likely repeat the mistakes of the past and he was asking fans to take a long-term view for the sustainability of rugby league in an area vital for the growth of the game.
"I fully appreciate that we'd be asking the Gold Coast people to say, we're brand Gold Coast," he said.
"Yes, you'd have to be willing to be a merger, so we'd have to meet halfway - the Titans brand would be parked and the Bears brand would come to the fore.
"But hopefully that's palatable.
"In any merger, in any partnership, both sides have got to win.
"Hopefully they can see - we're going to lose this, but we get that.
"The upside really does allow me to park the emotion of putting the Titans brand to the side because I can see the long-term play here, I can see how we're going to be a powerful entity going forward with the commitment to stay on the Gold Coast."