18th April 2019
The Cronulla Sharks are considering shifting some of their home games to the tropical island of Fiji and Tonga after failing to reach expected crowd numbers in 2018.
After posting a loss at every home game in the 2018 season, (with the highest crowd attendance at just 14,800) the Sharks are looking to take matches out of the shire and attract a new international market.
The football club is currently exploring the feasibility of taking some matches to Fiji's ANZ Stadium in Suva. With a capacity of 15,000 the stadium would attract a fantastic new market of football fans.
The idea has been well received from the Fijian National Rugby League.
Chairman of the Fijian National Rugby league, Peni Musanamasi is enthusiastic about working with the Cronulla Sharks.
"Of course, it would be great for us," Mr Musanamasi said.
"We are very interested, if they contact us we can go and work with them if that is what they would like to do, see what we need to prepare to make it possible."
While the stadium has a great capacity, the venture will still require sponsors and government assistance to be financially viable for all parties.
"It would need some long-term planning and marketing so we can get a lot of people in and we can get our return for the games and the people of Fiji." Mr Musanamasi said.
"Especially when we're trying to put a NSW Cup team in, it is an opportunity to show Australia and all rugby league clubs that we are able to build crowds, fill up the seats of whichever stadium we are going to use."
Cronulla Sharks Chairman Dino Mezzatesta is hoping that the venture will help expand the Sharks brand.
"We just need to find an area where we can grow our brand and support the sharks", he said.
"I'd love to explore the Pacific Islands. Having said that, I know what sort of cost it is.
"That would have to be heavily subsidised, but we'd look at that. If the Fijian or Tongan rugby league community (were keen), it would be unreal. We would need support from both countries for a subsidy for that to happen."