The Newcastle Knights moving to Ipswich?
That was the latest story coming out of NRL headquarters earlier this week and it had a number of rugby league experts on both sides of the border scratching their heads.
We were equally puzzled by this news, but this is far from the strangest Australian sporting relocation that has been rumoured over the years.
Can you imagine the Sydney Lions, Perth Sharks or Western Sydney Force? At one point they weren’t out of the realms of possibility!
The Swans are now so cemented in Sydney that it is often easy to forget that before 1982 the side was based in South Melbourne.
In 1980 there was a chance that the struggling Fitzroy Lions could beat South Melbourne to the punch after they were declared bankrupt and the club went as far as to register the name Sydney Lions.
A fund raising campaign was able to keep the club afloat and members eventually voted against relocation to Sydney.
Fitzroy fans did not have much of a break from the relocation speculation.
In 1986 it was revealed that the club was once again in a great deal of debt and a private consortium attempted to purchase the club and move it to Canberra.
Canberra was eventually replaced in relocation speculation by Brisbane, but members once again voted against moving the club.
It was never going to last – Fitzroy eventually merged with the Brisbane Bears in 1996 in what was basically a takeover/relocation.
Gold Coast Kangaroos
AFL has now been on the Gold Coast for a number of years – with limited success – but there was plenty of speculation in the late 2000s that the North Melbourne Kangaroos were set to relocate to the Glitter Strip.
The Kangaroos played home games in Sydney and Canberra from 1999 until 2006, but in 2006 it was decided that the club would play three home games a season on the Gold Coast.
This led to speculation that the club would make a permanent move to the Gold Coast and the relocation originally had board support, which was helped by the fact that the AFL pledged to offer the club $100 million if they relocated.
Kangaroos were vehemently against the move and a group known as We Are North Melbourne launched a public campaign that ended up ensuring the club remained in Melbourne.
It is fairly common knowledge that the NRL are keen for an existing Sydney-based club to relocate to another and there was a great deal of speculation that the NRL would force the Cronulla Sharks to relocate to Perth after the ASADA drug scandal hit.
The NRL never followed through with the threats and it has ended up working out fairly well for the Sharks – would they have captured the premiership last season if the moved to Perth had been made in 2013?
Central Queensland Sharks
Perth was not the only potential landing spot for the Sharks – a move to Central Queensland was also on the cards during the middle of the drug scandal.
The Central Queensland NRL big has been attempting to get a NRL side based in Rockhampton since 2009 and they thought all their Christmas’ had come at once when it was suggested the Sharks make the move across borders.
Money has been a problem at the Wests Tigers for just about their entire existence and they are one club that always come up when the relocation debate is put on the table.
Last year Rugby League Week reported that the Wests Tigers would make the move to Perth and this made plenty of sense – they could still play a couple of games a season at Leichardt Oval and they wouldn’t even have to change the name.
However, this report was quickly rejected by Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe and rugby league fans in Perth were forced back to Western Reds highlights on YouTube.
Gold Coast Mariners
The Gold Coast Chargers and Hunter Mariners were two victims of the Super League war, but that didn’t have to be the case.
When Super League and the ARL merged to create the NRL in 1998 the Hunter Mariners knew that they would be left out of the competition, but the cash-rich club offered a five million dollar grant as well as their leading players to the Gold Coast Chargers in exchange for a relocation deal.
The deal was rejected by the Chargers and they were forced out of the competition a year later – meanwhile the majority of the Hunter Mariners squad signed with Melbourne and won the NRL Premiership in 1999.
Western Sydney Force
It is fair to say that the Western Force have not covered themselves in glory since they were founded in 2005 and in recent years relocation has been on the cards.
A move into Western Sydney worked wonders for the A-League and the ARU seem to have a similar idea as the Western Sydney Force is a name that has been thrown around in private rugby circles.
The big loser of a Force move to Western Sydney could be the ACT Brumbies.
The Brumbies have been easily the most successful Australian side in the history of Super Rugby, but their future in the ACT is far from secure and they could be sent to Perth or Melbourne if either the Force or the Rebels end up on the scrap heap.
Hobart Saints/Hobart Hawks/Hobart Kangaroos
Hawthorn and North Melbourne will play a combined total of seven AFL games in Tasmania during the 2017 AFL season, but that is not enough for Tasmanian AFL fans – they want a team of their own.
The Tasmanian government has been badgering the AFL for a relocation plan for well over a decade and the Hobart Saints, Hobart Hawks, Hobart Kangaroos and Hobart Bulldogs have all been names thrown around.
Sadly, it looks as though the likes of David Boon, George Bailey and Jacqui Lambie will still be waiting a number of years yet for a football team of their own.