Well after a short lived and ill-fated merger with Manly they dissolved. To many, Manly agreed to the merger without any true intention of succesfully integrating with their long time regional rivals. They pocketed the merger money that was on the table and then left them high and dry 3 years later.
With many Sydney clubs now in financial distress (go on Matthew Johns blame the government -you're weak as piss) the move to the central coast of NSW is back on the cards with an $8 million dollar reward from the NRL for the club that goes. This was once the home (one of two - the other being Brookvale) of the Northern Eagles, the merged club between Manly and Norths.
As Brookvale continues to crumble and the Central Coast Mariners prove them wrong for not giving it a better go earlier, it appears that all Sydney clubs would rather be pushed than persuaded into making the move to the central coast now.
With Holmes a Court leaving Russell to deal with creditors over at the Rabbitohs, Parramatta unable to inspire their players to take a pay cut to save their bank balance, the Tigers in the midst of a development nightmare and with Wests more than willing to take over the NRL license Manly style, the Dragons are proving that no one wins on the pokies. Manly look all but safe thanks mainly due to a $20 million handout expected from the NSW state government.
So which clubs should go? Should the decision be purely financial? Or does history and geography come into play? From the last round of club carnage, the NRL took no notice of history when letting the North Sydney Bears fold nor took any notice of geographical boundaries, with Cronulla emerging as a small island engulfed by the new St George-Illawarra Club. Economically, surely those clubs that aren't financially viable or, more acurately, hung their futures on the back of the pokies, have a tough case to argue that they should remain at the potential expense of those clubs that focused on high game attandances/a solid fan base/high membership and smart sponsorship arrangements.
The strangest thing to come out of all this is that players don't want to play at ANZ Stadium because its empty. Well this just about sums it up, people aren't going to the games and for too long the fans have been given the arse over those who play the pokies. The math is simple, you neglect your fans you lose the club.
It would be easier to start again than reduce 8 (9 including Penrith) Sydney based teams down to the more realistic 4 /5 clubs that Sydney can support. For example there are only 9 london teams that have ever played in the EPL (Arsenal, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers, Tottenham, West Ham and Wimbledon) with Wimbledon FC being forced out of London in 2003-04. If a population close to 8 million can't support 9 teams in their first division than I don't think a city the size of Sydney can.
I would prepose a simple East, West, North and South arangement plus Penrith and lets be honest Penrith is nowhere near Sydney. You mountaineers have to be joking when you say you live in Sydney, you live in the sticks - isn't that right Professor, can I have another ass pudding Mr. Girdler? But seriously, I think a strong geographic recognition has to be the starting point. I would just simply establish the borders on a map and issue one licence for each quadrant and all clubs within that quadrant would then need to battle/merge with each other or relocate in order to play in the NRL. Simplistic? Yes, but at the end of the day, nothing can be said to console the supporters of the club that goes and nothing can be done to reverse the poor managerial decisions of those clubs that are now facing the axe.