New NRL funding deal saves clubs

All 16 NRL clubs should be break-even financial ventures within three years after negotiating a historic funding agreement with the NRL.

The game’s governing body announced on Thursday it will give $100 million extra per year to the clubs until 2022 and has pledged to invest the same amount again in grassroots funding.

The announcement comes after rugby league’s $1.8 billion TV deal was finalised last week, and a marathon meeting between club chairpeople and ARL Commission chairman John Grant at Rugby League Central on Wednesday.

In other key developments: Grant said competition expansion was not on the agenda, the NRL will combat player burnout by hopefully eliminating five-day turnarounds by 2018 and a long list of candidates as Dave Smith’s successor has been drawn up.

A new NRL chief executive is unlikely to be in place for the start of the 2016 season, regardless Melbourne chairman Bart Campbell, who doubles as a spokesman for the 16 clubs, said the game’s financial future was secure, including for fiscally challenged clubs such as Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra and Newcastle.

“I would say 2018 is a realistic timeframe for the clubs to be profitable … that 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 and where we sit today that is a good outcome,” Campbell said.

“What it means is that the clubs can stand on their own two feet, the NRL don’t have to own clubs, they don’t have to prop up clubs and that is a good thing from a competition integrity point of view.

“Over time everyone will be able to be masters of their own ship.”

Each club has now been granted a perpetual license with the NRL as opposed to the limited term licenses doled out previously.

“The security of a perpetual license and the security of a seven-year funding model means that all the clubs that are supported by the NRL now become viable and all are able to go back to correct ownership outside of the NRL,” Grant said.

“The great news for fans is that their clubs are going to be stronger, they are going to be more professional, more focused on growing their businesses and more secure financially as a result.

“They will have an ongoing license forever to be in the NRL.”

Other key elements of the funding deal include payments to each club of $1.5 million per year from 2016 to 2022 and a grant to each club of 130 per cent of total player payments from 2018-2022.

Grant has been under fire to retain his role as ARLC chairman but after delivering a record TV deal and much need funding to clubs after months of bickering, he is set to keep his job.

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