NRL clubs reach funding deal with ARLC after 10-hour meeting
33 minutes ago
Dean RitchieThe Daily Telegraph
FINALLY, peace has been reached between the NRL and its fed-up clubs.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal under-pressure ARL Commission chairman John Grant relented on Wednesday and agreed to give all 16 clubs the additional funding they have demanded for the past three months.
It was a landmark agreement.
The deal was brokered at a marathon 10-hour meeting inside League Central on Wednesday. Final figures are yet to be settled but clubs got what they wanted - more money.
Grant is expected to formally trumpet the deal at a press conference today, which is the reason why NRL officials refused to release a media statement late last night.
“Today was a really constructive meeting and the progress we hoped to make today was made,” said spokesman for the clubs, Bart Campbell, chairman of the Melbourne Storm.
The combined outlay under the new deal from the NRL to the clubs is believed to be about $70 million.
One club chairman said: “We are in broad agreement, a heads of agreement if you like. We are in agreement over the commercial principles. We still need to work through some detail but we are pretty much on the same page.
“Timing and detail still have to be worked out but we can now go forward, which is good.”
Asked had peace been reached, the chairman said: “Yes, definitely.”
Chairpersons seeking additional funding from a cashed-up NRL walked into League Central at 10am on Wednesday and didn’t emerge until 8pm. The meeting was being dubbed the most important among clubs and officials for the past five years.
All club chairpersons attended the meeting along with the eight commissioners.
It was anticipated that the meeting would be heated and dramatic. Clubs have been seeking increased funding for three months now, each attempt blocked by Grant.
There appears to be no further moves to oust Grant, as club chairpersons had previously threatened.
“I don’t think he buckled - it was just time to get on with it,” a chairman said of Grant. “The NRL realised that.”
The clubs were seeking approval for a nine point plan which included annual grants being lifted to 130 per cent of the salary cap - equating to $13m a year should the salary cap be increased to $10m - money that would help run the increasing costs of running football departments, in particular the spiralling costs of an NRL head coach.
Clubs were also seeking a 30 per cent share of future NRL profits, approval of the NRL’s budget, independent review of NRL costs, a review of the ARL Commission constitution and ensuring participation licences are indefinite. They also sought to be given $3m immediately from the NRL.
Twelve clubs still haven’t signed participation contracts to play in the NRL after 2017. Clubs claim the game has “gone past” the days when poker machines propped up teams financially.
Although denied by Grant, the clubs lost a combined total of $40m a season.
Going into the meeting, Cowboys chairman Laurence Lancini was asked whether Grant was safe.
“Absolutely, why wouldn’t he be?,” Lancini said.
The NRL CEOs are due to meet on Thursday.