Well-Funded New York Bid Targets Hayne
The New York City rugby league franchise aiming to enter the Super League will target Jarryd Hayne and the best players in the world and boast A$52 million in funding over the initial three years of its existence.
Bid founder Ricky Wilby is a Yorkshire-based entrepreneur who has been involved in rugby league all his life. He has spent the past 12 years with the Catalans Dragons in media, sponsorship and logistics.
"The plan is for New York to come in to the competition in 2019 and we put our bid application into the Rugby Football League two and a half months ago showing our finances, potential stadiums and hotels for opposition teams to stay in," Wilby told NRL.com.
"We have also shown them proof of funds and agreements in principle for sponsorship deals to cover the cost of flights and hotels for opposition teams.
"The only cost for the opposition teams will be getting from their home base to the airport. We will foot every other cost."
The bid team will ramp up its quest in the new year with plans for a delegation of RFL officials to visit New York to meet sponsors and examine facilities.
"We'd like to get a 'yes' 12 months out from when we intend to kick off our first game in 2019," Wilby said.
"We'd like to come into the Championship or Super League but there is a lot to do in terms of the League's structure.
"We also appreciate that there has been a precedent set with Toronto and Toulouse in the last couple of years and they have had to start at the bottom and work their way up.
"New York brings to the table star quality, a lot of commercial activity and is going to generate a lot of local interest in the UK and global interest in terms of America and Australia."
The start-up costs will be significant costs but Wilby said the bid team's investors would "put in 10 million pounds per year over the first three years", which equates to A$52. 5 million.
"One London-based investor is a property magnate with 20 properties in and around Mayfair and Kensington. There is another investor based in New York, also in property development," Wilby said.
The new franchise is looking at three stadiums but the preferred choice is Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, home of the New York Red Bulls.
New York intend to have five American players in their squad of 30 and Wilby has already been overwhelmed with interest.
"NRL stars and other players and their agents have approached me, as have coaches," he said.
"In terms of the players and their agents I have given them all the same response, which is that it is all very well for me to play 'fantasy football' and say that I'd like this player and that player, but I am not the coach.
"It is the coaches [that] will be appointed first and then we will go out with our shopping list, but Jarryd Hayne would be a perfect fit in terms of his already having gone to the United States and tried something new [in the NFL with San Francisco]".
Wilby said the bid team aimed to speak to Hayne in "the next three or six months".
"We'll also look to attract players who've been in a great culture at a club like Melbourne and involved in a team outside of rugby league heartland," he said.
"We want to sign the best players in the world with the right culture because we want to win competitions.
"We have that responsibility to ourselves, the competition and supporters."
Wilby met Ipswich Jets coaches Ben and Shane Walker last week on the Gold Coast and said they were in the mix to coach New York.
"They are innovators and have the ability to coach and develop players," he said.
"Players go to Ipswich, leave better players and go on to become NRL or Super League players."
This article first appeared on NRL.com