NRL clubs say they are united

Clubs say they are united behind the NRL and its chief executive Dave Smith following a meeting of club chairpersons on Monday.

The chairs of all 16 clubs had phone hook-up to discuss recent developments including the NRL’s $925 million deal with Nine, who will provide four live games a week on free-to-air television from 2018.

Smith has been under fire since the AFL trumpeted a $2.5 billion broadcast deal which followed the NRL announcement.

There were reports that some clubs were disillusioned with the NRL and were considering breaking away to form their own competition.

But spokesman Bart Campbell, who is chairman of the Melbourne Storm, issued a statement on behalf of the clubs that debunked that.

“Despite speculation to the contrary, all 16 clubs are united in our approach and we look forward to continuing these discussions with the NRL in a timely manner,” the statement said.

“Given recent developments the meeting was timely, even though it had long been planned.

“As has been the way since our June meeting, positive discussions continue.”

Wests Tigers’ chair, Marina Go, agreed it was a positive meeting.

“Great meeting with all clubs today. United and the future looks bright. #NRL,” she tweeted.

The AFL’s deal covers free-to-air, pay TV and digital rights, with the NRL still to negotiate deals for the latter areas and the AFL covers six seasons rather than rugby league’s five.

There are reportedly concerns that the overall value of the NRL broadcast rights may fall short of what the AFL will receive because of the way negotiations with Fox Sports, owned by News Corp, and Telstra have been handled.

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