Could this left-field solution fix NRL's crowd issue?

A left-field fix has been pitched to fix the NRL’s disastrous crowds fixture, but would it work?

Following yet another disappointing showing from fans in last weekend’s semi-final matches, journalist Paul Crawley said the NRL needed to do something drastic.

“I just think the problem for rugby league is that our crowds have been the same for basically as long as I remember,” Crawley told NRL 360.

“They’ve hovered around the 14-16,000 average season on season on season. This year, we talked about the crowds being up but it’s actually, when you look at the NRL era, it’s smack bang in the middle per game.”

Less than 20,000 fans watched the Sharks v Panthers semi-final at Allianz Stadium. Pic: Getty

Speaking on Tuesday night, Crawley pitched an idea he had heard before from Dragons CEO Peter Doust.

“It got me thinking about the crowds and something Peter Doust said years and years ago when he spoke about playing conferences,” Crawley said.

“I believe we need to do what the fans want. What the fans want, in Sydney particularly, is rivalry. More local derbies. The only way to do it, you can’t have two home-and-away rounds against everyone in the comp, it’s too many rounds.

“I reckon we split the comp in two. You have the Sydney teams in a conference, you have the out of town teams in a conference.

“I know there’s a difference in one team there so whether they could do it every eight years that team swaps over to the other division or you expand by two teams.

“This year for example, the top ten Sydney crowds were all against Sydney rivals. That would have to help in building crowds. You’ve got to do what the fans want.”