Football club executives have hailed a briefing by officials from New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland, on a proposal for the state bodies to receive an extra $15 million in funding from the National Rugby League (NRL) to aid in the running of their competitions.
A high-level meeting occurred on Tuesday, in which executive attendees decided against the notion of a national reserve grade competition. They suggested the State of Origin series spans across four weeks, with matches happening on three successive Wednesdays.
NSW Rugby League head, Dave Trodden, alongside his Queensland Rugby League peer, Ben Ikin, convened with 14 out of the 17 NRL club chiefs at Sydney’s NSW Olympic Park on Tuesday. Representatives from the Cowboys, New Zealand Warriors, and Wests Tigers joined the extensive two-hour presentation via teleconference.
In a separate course of events, a meeting between the NRL and the Rugby League Players’ Association is scheduled for today. This is the latest development aimed to end the enduring deadlock over the collective bargaining agreement.
The NSWRL receives about $24 million funding from the NRL, and it’s pushing for this figure to rise to approximately $28 million. Simultaneously, the QRL aims to raise its funding to slightly above $30 million — an increase of about $10 million — aiding in increasing grants to their Queensland Cup clubs from $350,000 to $650,000 per annum.
Trodden and Ikin explained it was crucial to provide the NRL clubs an outline of the states’ expenditure, and failing to grant their funding increase request would lead to compression of their businesses.
“The focus of today was to assure the NRL clubs that we spend the funds we get from the NRL wisely,” Trodden declared. Ikin seconded this, stating, “It wasn’t political, it was entirely about transparency, building stronger trust and to work more closely with the clubs to improve the game’s outcomes.”
Ikin highlighted that the annual club grant hasn’t risen in six years. Moreover, unlike the NSW Cup teams linked with NRL clubs, the 15 existing clubs do not take advantage of excellence centres.
The request for additional funding from the NSWRL was submitted to the ARL Commission in July the previous year.
Should the ARLC fail to comply with the state bodies’ funding requests, Trodden and Ikin explained it would adversely affect game participation and pathways.
“The player base is growing, the game’s elite level desires expansion, which is contingent on the investment in community football and pathways,” said Ikin.
The newly appointed QRL boss has planned to meet the NRL Chief Executive, Andrew Abdo, on Wednesday. The NRL had expressed interest in participating in Tuesday’s club meeting, though Ikin courteously declined this request.
At the assembly, the NRL introduced the suggestion of a national reserve grade competition, held before each match. However, not a single club supported this idea.
“There was a discussion, but nobody is in favour, and it lacks merit,” Ikin stated, adding, “It merely narrows the pathways. Why substitute the 15 statewide clubs in Queensland with four NRL reserve grade squads?”
Trodden noted, “It doesn’t enjoy support from the actual NRL clubs. Some clubs were curious why it’s still under consideration.”
The Origin series was discussed, with clubs expressing their preference for a lesser impact on their competition. The proposed change was to span the series over a month, with players joining camp on a Sunday before each Wednesday’s game. Squad sizes would be expanded to accommodate the swift rotation.
However, any amendments to the plan require broadcasters’ approval, acknowledged clubs and state bodies.
The NRL was approached for feedback.