Is the TV rights deal the best news in NRL history?
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Dave Taylor is tackled by Gareth Ellis during the Round 21 (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)
Before you dismiss the headline as mere hyperbole, let’s breakdown the news that the NRL is set for a massive financial windfall with the new TV rights deal, and what it will mean to clubs.
Listed below are some potential ramifications from the deal, which were projected earlier in the year:
Based on $1 billion over five years to the NRL
- $120 million a year in grants to the NRL clubs.
- $7.5 million annual grant to each club – increased from $3.65 million.
- $7 million annual salary cap – increased from $4.3 million.
- Grant to be $500,000 more than the salary cap, for clubs to spend on promotion and development.
- Squads increased from 25 to 30, creating an extra 80 positions for league players across the game.
- Minimum wage increased from $55,000 to $70,000.
- $80 million to the NRL administration for staff wages, travel and accommodation costs of 16 clubs, referees, junior development and setting up a war chest for any future ‘bidding war’.
Now take a breath, and read those bullet points again.
While the financial figures quoted above may not end up being the exact amounts, they won’t be far off. Which means rugby league will be extremely well placed to strengthen its position in Australian sport.
It’s easy to be bedazzled by large amounts of cash, but what does it actually mean for the NRL?
- Firstly, with the salary cap getting a huge increase, it’s less likely that the game will lose players to the UK Super League, rugby union or AFL.
- Players that are currently playing in those leagues and codes will be enticed to return to the NRL.
- Players will not be forced into an early retirement because of a team’s salary cap squeeze.
- The NRL will also be in a better position to poach players from other codes.
- Both the clubs and the NRL will be able to spend more on promoting the game which, in turn, will bring more people to the game, generating even more revenue.
- Expansion will become a reality, and not just talk. And any expansion into Perth, Central Coast or South East Queensland will not impact on the handouts to the clubs, because the extra television revenue generated from an additional game each weekend would offset the difference.
- It guarantees the survival of all clubs, ensuring no fans or regions will be lost to the game.
- Perhaps the least obvious, but the best news to come out of the deal, is the impact on junior rugby league and development. It means that more kids, with better skills, will be coming into the game.
When it comes to the benefits of the pay day, these are just the tip of the iceberg, as there are numerous advantages to having the coffers full of cash.
But it all adds add up to one thing: an improved game.
Or, if you want to talk in business terms, a better product.
While it’s certainly not a guarantee of success – the Independent Commission will need to ensure that the money is spent wisely – it is unquestionably a fantastic foundation for the game to build on.
In the battle to be Australia’s number one football code, if not sport, rugby league’s war chest just received a healthy boost.
Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.