NRL clubs in line for funding windfall by 2017

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 07:28 21/02/2013
John Grant
TAMARA DEAN/Fairfax Australia
JOHN GRANT: "We have laid a lot of foundations in place both financially and structurally for us to be successful."

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NRL clubs will get increased funding of up to AU$7.9 million by 2017 after a historic annual general meeting of the ARL Commission.

The amount of the club's funding for the next five years is expected to be the main item at the all-day conference on Thursday, which will begin with the ARLC's first AGM and be followed by a six-hour forum.

All eight commissioners will attend, along with the chairman and chief executive of the 16 clubs and the NSWRL and QRL, which comprise the ARLC's 18 shareholders.

The chairmen will attend the AGM at 9am, at which the 2012 financial report will be tabled, and they will be joined by the CEOs, along with the management team of the NRL, for the annual conference from 10am to 4pm.

ARLC chairman John Grant said the day - and what he described as a ''smell the roses'' dinner on Wednesday night at Centennial Park - provided an opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved since the commission took over the running of the game 12 months ago. But more importantly, the ARLC and the clubs will finalise budgets for the next five years, to coincide with the new media rights and sponsorship deals.

''There will be a review of 2012, in which I will go into detail about the things we did get through and a more detailed review of the financials of last year, but more importantly the budgets for this year and the high-level plan for the balance of the five-year medium term,'' Grant said.

''There is some ongoing work to do around that but the parameters have been locked in because our income has been locked in.''

The annual club grant for this season has been set at AU$7.1 million, and Fairfax Media was told it would rise by $200,000 a season until 2017 - guaranteeing clubs up to $1 million more a year than the salary cap, which was finalised last week.

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the NRL and the Rugby League Players' Association, the salary cap will be AU$5.85 million this season - including the $400,000 marquee player allowance - and will rise to $6.3 million in 2014, $6.55 million in 2015, $6.8 million in 2016 and $7 million in 2017.

While there will be interest in the game's income and expenditure after 15 years without any financial reports being made public when News Ltd and the ARL ran the NRL as a joint venture, the figures are largely irrelevant as the $1.025 billion television deal does not begin until this year.

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There has been an enormous amount achieved throughout the year, Grant said. ''We have obviously had challenges along the way, and we have got terrific outcomes out of those. We have laid a lot of foundations in place both financially and structurally for us to be successful.

''There is a bit more to go but, really, when we sat down at the beginning of the year, I don't think we envisaged how much there was to do because although we came into it very optimistic and keen, we didn't really understand that there was a whole bunch of stuff that had to be negotiated once every five years.

''Consequently, the load and the expectation around that was enormous but give it to our management team and to people within our clubs and the players - all of whom were involved in aspects of all of those negotiations - and the commissioners ... and we got great outcomes all over the place.''

- Sydney Morning Herald

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