Australia is relatively unique on the world stage in that professional sporting clubs are not privately owned. This has allowed a governing bodies to implement socialist management policies so that the interests of the game can be put above the financial interests of individual clubs. The privately owned Brisbane Broncos are an exception to Australia’s general trend, an exception that has allowed the club to post profits and revenue that dwarf its rivals.
Ironically, the establishment of the Broncos came about because league administrators in Brisbane cared more for the game than profit. For over 100 years, Brisbane had a well supported suburban league known as the BRL. While not quite as powerful as Sydney's league (the NSWRL), it meant just as much to many of its supporters. In the 1980s, Sydney rugby league officials decided it was time for a national competition, or more accurately, time for Brisbane to enter a team in Sydney's suburban league and pay a licence fee. Brisbane was not amused and declined. NSWRL had to instead to settle on a team from Canberra, which joined in 1982.
While Brisbane's organising body and clubs declined out of concern for their traditions, some entrepreneurs in Brisbane felt there was money to be made in the plan and so in 1988, they put forward a proposal to field a private team. The NSWRL accepted and so the Broncos were born. To be synonymous with Queensland, the new franchise chose maroon, gold and white for its colours.
Although Brumbies was considered for its moniker, the franchise settled on Broncos, perhaps because it was more inspired by the corporate spirit of American gridiron team, the Denver Broncos, than by poems of horses in the Australian bush. The choice was an ominous sign of the future. Just as Broncos refer to an untrained horse, Brisbane soon showed that they were not particularly fond of being told what to do.
Much to the concern of BRL, the Broncos proved themselves to be extremely popular. Crowds at BRL games fell away and profits made from rugby league were going straight into the hands of the only football club in Australia that was also a publicly listed company. What was the NSWRL's messiah, was the BRL’s very naughty boy.
As the Broncos went from strength to strength, the NSWRL discovered that it wasn't only the BRL that could be burnt by an entrepreneurial spirit. The Broncos had grown too big for their NSW pond and decided that not only did some of the smaller fish need to be killed off, but the pond itself needed to be expanded. They believed this could be achieved via a vision known as Super League. This vision would cut teams in Sydney but include new teams all over Australia before expanding world wide.
The Broncos approached NSW officials with the plan, but it was rejected about of concerns for the traditions of the competition and its clubs. (Basically, the same concerns of the BRL some years earlier.) The Broncos then approached News ltd, the largest media company in the world, to fund the vision. A billion dollars and a couple of court cases later, Super League was born with the Broncos as its star cheerleader.
Super League proved to be a flop, and it may well have been the end of the corporate dream had a love of the game outweighed thoughts of retribution. As part of a peace deal, a new national competition was created that culled the two South East Queensland teams that were in competition with the Broncos.
Whether the Broncos have been good for rugby league is open to debate. As a publicly listed company, its primary concern is making a profit. Sentiment, traditions, junior development and ethics only matter to the Bronco shareholders if they are conducive to making a profit. On the positive side, there is an appreciation that if rugby league goes well, then profits will flow. Considering that the Broncos average the largest crowds and have the most supporters of any rugby league club, it would be fair to say that they are doing something right.
Ironically, rugby league culture is synonymous with making money. The code was invented so players could be compensated with money. Rules were changed to make it popular with spectators so that more money could be made. Anyone who wanted sentiment, tradition and heritage was expected to play rugby union where they wouldn’t get paid but administrators would.
2004 - Brisbane Broncos supporters are:
2006 - When compared to other NRL supporters
Q:Why do Broncos fans drink a beer called XXXX?
A: Because they can't spell beer.
Q:Why wasn't Jesus born amongst Queensland Rugby League fans?
A:God couldn't find three wise men or a virgin.