NRL and clubs remain at loggerheads

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The NRL and clubs remain at loggerheads after three meetings in Sydney on Tuesday failed to resolve the clubs’ stand-off over demands for extra funding.

The 16 NRL clubs are seeking an additional $8 million dollars ($500,000 per club) next year and also want a $1.6 million advance payment on the next TV rights deal which is yet to be negotiated.

A series of meetings were held across Sydney on Tuesday in a bid to resolve the impasse, starting with a NSWRL meeting, followed by a gathering of ARL officials and ending with an NRL partnership committee meeting comprising News Limited and the NRL.

The ARL on Tuesday backed chairman John Chalk’s assertion that NRL clubs’ demands for increased funding are reasonable.

Chalk said on Monday that his personal view was the NRL clubs’ request for an additional $500,000 represented an “affordable and sustainable increase for the 2012 season”.

The ARL supported Chalk’s statement, saying in a brief statement after their meeting on Tuesday: “The Board of the Australian Rugby League met today and resolved to support the 16 NRL clubs in their funding application.”

However the partnership committee which controls the financial arm of the game and who last week rejected taking out an $8 million loan, still remain unconvinced.

Despite earlier reports NRL clubs would boycott the partnership committee meeting all clubs were represented.

The meeting was described by News Limited sources as “productive” and while no outcome was reached the parties have agreed to meet again soon.

The cash-strapped clubs have adopted a hard line approach saying they either get a $500,000 payment or they won’t be signing their licensing agreements, which expire on October 31.

The ARL’s backing of their demands suggests they also support their threat to not sign on.

NRL clubs spokesman Dave Trodden on Tuesday remained adamant the clubs would not put pen to paper until an agreement was reached.

“They (clubs) need to be asking the question now because they’re being asked to sign the (NRL) agreements now,” Trodden said.

“It’s just not commercially possible to sign agreements now for six years and reach an agreement on the basic component of the document – which is the funding – at some stage in the future.

“Commercially, that’s just not possible for the clubs to do.”

Should clubs not sign a new agreement the establishment of the long-awaited independent commission by November 1 would be put in serious jeopardy.

The stand-off on Monday claimed its first big-name casualty with NRL partnership committee chairman Colin Love quitting his post in frustration.

© AAP 2014
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