A $25m survival shout
CASH-strapped clubs fearing for their futures through COVID setbacks will pressure the NRL for an additional $25m next year for “survival, prosperity and to continue making the NRL an elite competition.”
The Daily Telegraph understands a special club CEO committee has been formed - including South Sydney’s Blake Solly, Penrith’s Brian Fletcher, Brisbane’s Paul White, Sydney Roosters’ Joe Kelly and Melbourne’s Dave Donaghy - to discuss finances and distribution with the NRL for the next three years.
Reeling financially from COVID, each club will seek an extra $1.5m to ensure their short-term existence. One official said another cash-crippling season in 2021 could ruin clubs. Clubs want a $3m payment gap between the NRL’s annual $13m grant to clubs and the $10m to cover each club’s salary cap increased to $4.5m.
That represents another $24m among the 16 clubs. This, clubs say, will cover further forecast losses for next season under a “prepare for the worst, hope for the best” scenario.
There are genuine fears clubs will again suffer financially next season through reduced crowds, merchandise, membership and gate takings. Despite leading the NRL competition table, Penrith lost $4m this year through gate receipts and sponsorship.
One CEO said: “The $24m would provide clubs with the financial security to get through the season, deal with any changes in Government or NRL protocols and restrictions, while continuing to deliver the most exciting competition we can for supporters, members, broadcasters and sponsors.
“In essence, the clubs are saying that 2021 is probably going to look very much like 2020 and we will need the additional level of distribution from the NRL to guarantee the survival and prosperity of all 16 clubs.
“On a worst case, we are likely to require the proposed NRL funding margin - the gap between player payments and the NRL distribution to clubs - be improved from $3m to $4.5m.
Clubs have already agreed to a big decrease in the football department cap and the improved NRL deal will help all 16 clubs survive.
Clubs believe the NRL can further slice their costs to help find and fund the $24m.
NRL management has already claimed it will slash $50m from its yearly expenditure. That said, clubs state the NRL still spent around $225m in 2019 on costs and game development. All clubs have been registering their financial struggles to each other to show the need for extra money.