Sports Industry AU

What happens off the field in Australian Sport


NRL and clubs reach funding agreement

In August 2015, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the NRL clubs want an increase in their annual NRL grant from $7.5 million a year to $12 million if the salary cap rises to $10 million a year in 2018 – or an annual payment of more than $2 million in excess of their total wages bill for players. The clubs are also expected to demand an increased say in the running of the NRL

At the same time, the clubs rejected News Limited speculation that the clubs were considering a breakaway competition, despite not having signed participation agreements beyond 2017.

Fairfax reported on November 17 that NRL clubs want their annual grants increased to 130 per cent of the salary cap and changes to the constitution to give them a greater say in the make-up of the ARL Commission.Those are the key points in a list of demands drawn up ahead of a potentially explosive meeting on Wednesday between a delegation of club bosses and the NRL’s negotiating team, headed by ARL chairman John Grant.The clubs have devised a list of demands, which include:

  • annual grants of 130 per cent of the amount for total player payments;
  • a 30 per cent share of NRL profits;
  • a review of the ARLC constitution;
  • NRL licences for an indefinite period;
  • an independent review of the NRL’s costs, and;
  • a say in approving the NRL’s budget;
  • Review of the ratchet clauses that link increases in the salary cap to increases in player wages;
  • A vehicle to share digital rights revenue based on the model used in Major League Baseball;
  • $3 million offered by the NRL but with no conditions attached.

On December 3rd, Fairfax media reported that the governing body has agreed to provide the clubs with an extra $100 million from 2018 to 2022, while the same amount will be invested in grassroots-to-elite funding. Clubs have also been granted their request of grants totalling 130 per cent of player payments over that period, plus $1.5 million per club from 2016 to 2022 to invest in their businesses.

There had been whispers of a breakaway competition being formed if club demands for more funding weren’t met, as the majority had not yet signed new participation agreements. However,Fairfax reported that franchises have agreed to hold a “perpetual licence” to play in the NRL competition after the parties agreed on how to divvy up the spoils of the broadcast bounty.

“I think all clubs would accept that we now have been given the tools to be self-sustainable and if, as boards, we are unable to take that opportunity and run with it then we need to be accountable for that,’’ Campbell said. “I would say 2018 would be a realistic time frame to expect the clubs to be profitable. Profitable is probably too strong because if they do go down the investment path, which is an absolute necessity for the game to go forward, then break even is not unrealistic.“The NRL don’t have to own clubs, they don’t have to prop up clubs and I think that’s probably a good thing from a competition integrity point of view. I understand why they do it and it’s a necessity but over time everyone will be able to be masters of their own ship.’’

On December 6, it was reported by Fairfax that NRL clubs will no longer receive financial compensation for playing home games on Monday nights or in other unpopular time slots under the new funding agreement with the ARL Commission.

As a result, clubs will not receive an extra $40,000 for each Monday night game they host as compensation for lower gate takings and sponsorship than matches played in other time slots. There will also be no compensation for hosting matches in the new 6pm Friday timeslot to be introduced from 2017, which Sydney clubs fear will be too early for fans to get to after work


Jason Lassey

Ive been collecting and publishing Sports related crowd, financial, and ratings data here and on twitter for about 12 years.

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