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Why it’s Gold Coast or bust for the Bears

Why it’s Gold Coast or bust for the Bears Written by JOHN DEAN, February 25, 2016

CENTRAL Coast Bears CEO Greg Florimo has admitted that a partnership with the Gold Coast could be the last shot at seeing the Bears return to the big time.

RLW revealed on Wednesday that there are moves for the Bears to buy out the struggling Titans franchise – and rename the team the Gold Coast Bears.

For the last seven years, Florimo, who played 285 games for North Sydney, has headed up the Central Coast Bid to have the Bears reinstated in the NRL. He believes they may now need to consider other avenues.

“We started out this process driving hard for a team on the Central Coast in 2009,” Florimo told Sky Sports’ Big Breakfast on Thursday.

“It seems pretty clear that the NRL aren’t going to be expanding to the Central Coast or anywhere in the near future, so we had to explore our options and there’s four clubs out there who are being controlled by the NRL who don’t want to be controlling them and sticking in millions of dollars – one of those clubs is the Gold Coast.

“We’ve now gone down the path of potentially being a solution for the NRL to help them out in driving a sustainable club.”

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Florimo said the venture would be more of a “partnership” as opposed to a takeover.

“I think it’s very important that we’re cognisant of the Gold Coast community and the fantastic work they’ve done with the Titans,” he said. “We would think that they would like to get behind the new brand.

“We’re ready to be able to assist the NRL, if and when there comes a decision when some of those clubs are up for sale.”

Florimo said rugby league fans on the Central Coast would not be forgotten about.

“It’s important that we respect the work and the support that the Central Coast have given us over the years and we’d like to think that we can still deliver to those fans,” he added.

“The ideal model is a couple of games being taken to the Central Coast and hopefully encouraging some of the other NRL clubs to take a home or two to the Central Coast – we still think we can deliver rugby league to that area. We want the fans on the Central Coast to come with us on this journey.”

Despite the Gold Coast being rebranded a number of times over the years, Florimo said the Bears’ brand would help the club survive in that region.

“It would be the Bears, the Gold Coast Bears,” he said.

“We think in terms of sustainability and for a club to be there in 10, 20, 50 years, the strength of the Bears’ brand is going to supply that sustainability.”

Florimo believes that the Gold Coast may be the Bears’ last shot at a return to top flight rugby league.

“I don’t see too many other options presenting themselves,” he said.

“The energy and finance that we put into the Central Coast bid really didn’t come to fruition … so we’re going hard to the plate on this one.”

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