NRL clubs are agitating for a major overhaul of the way rugby league in Australia is structured when the game emerges from the coronavirus crisis, using the English Premier League as a template for a new landscape in which they would have much more power.
The clubs will be briefed on Monday morning by the NRL following a meeting of the ARL Commission, with pay cuts for players and executives expected to be rubber-stamped as the code attempts to survive the COVID-19 lockdown in the absence of broadcast income from Nine Entertainment and Foxtel, whose next instalments are due on Wednesday.
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero is one of the biggest stars of the Premier League.Credit:AP
The document, obtained by the Herald, spells out how much greater weight clubs have in the game there than over affairs in the NRL here, with the Premier League "reporting to 20 member clubs”, who are each equal shareholders, and 14 out of the 20 required to vote on a particular issue to affect change.
It describes the role of the Premier League management as "to manage and govern the league, monetise the rights globally for clubs, distribute the money equitably amongst clubs to reinvest in talent, stadium and local communities, provide responsible support to lower league clubs and wider football and community development.”
According to the document that has been passed around by NRL clubs, 83 per cent of all revenue that flows into the Premier League is passed on to its clubs.
The NRL’s 2019 annual report says 43 per cent of all revenue was distributed to the 16 clubs – a pool of $228.1 million from total revenue of $528.5m.
The NRL has wider responsibilities than simply the country’s elite competition, pumping $48m into the states and $40m to development and employs about 400 staff.
However, there is a belief among some clubs that the NRL should be a significantly leaner operation.
According to the Premier League document they are using as a model, only a penny out of every pound that flows into the game there is spent on operating costs and the Premier League head office has only 140 staff.
While uncertainty has gripped the NRL and its clubs over the past fortnight, particularly since the competition was shut down on Monday, there was some good news on Friday when Telstra confirmed it would not pull back from its major sponsorship and from its role as the code's digital broadcast partner while there were no games.
"Telstra is a very strong supporter of Australian sport and we remain committed to all of our partnerships across NRL, AFL, netball and FFA, and will continue with our support regardless of season interruptions," a Telstra spokesman said.
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