How the nonplayer salary cap will hit your team
The NRL is moving on off-field spending – and your club could get hurt
THE BRONCOS, DOGS AND Cowboys will be the big losers if the NRL succeeds in its bid to bring in a salary cap on football departments next season. Concerned because rich clubs have a massive advantage over their poorer rivals in terms of money to spend on top-flight coaches and sports science, the NRL is considering bringing in a level playing field similar to the salary cap on player spending.
A special RLW investigation has revealed that the Broncos spend more money on off-field facilities than any of their 15 rivals, closely followed by the Bulldogs and Cowboys.
If the NRL is successful with the new cap, it’ll be a boost for the struggling Knights and Dragons, who spend less off-field than anyone else.
Areas to be covered by the cap – believed to be around the $10 million mark – include salaries of coaches, chief executives and other staff, overseas study trips, sports science and high-performance units.
With most football clubs running at a loss and propped up by grants from the NRL, rich benefactors and leagues clubs, League HQ is wary of sides plunging further into financial strife at the current rate of spending.
It’s estimated that the big clubs outlay over $10 million off the field, while their poorer opponents spend less than half that.
Most clubs are behind the move to limit off-field spending, but the rich sides feel the cap would be a backward step, dragging them back to the rest of the field.
“It’s not our fault that some clubs can’t keep up with the changing pace of the game off the field,” a source from one of the game’s wealthier teams tells RLW.
“The top coaches get paid big salaries and you can’t begrudge them that for the work they put in and the stress the job places on them.
“And they’re always on the cutting edge of technology, always looking for that new bit of sports science that will give them the edge.
“But that sort of thing doesn’t come cheap – you look at what football clubs in America and Europe spend and it’s massive compared to rugby league.
“And a lot of it’s related to player welfare and sports science to help them out. We have to think of what is best for our athletes.”
However, the Sharks proved last season that it’s possible to beat the big boys despite modest budgets.
Wayne Bennett and Craig Bellamy are the game’s highest-paid coaches, believed to be on about $1.5 million a year. Des Hasler isn’t far behind on around $1.25 million, and Paul Green is also on seven figures.
Nathan Brown and Paul McGregor are on under half that amount.
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