The Courier-Mail

SALARY SACRIFICE

NRL STARS TOLD TO TAKE A HIT FOR THE TEAM IN FIGHT FOR TV RIGHTS CASH

- CHRIS GARRY @tiger_cmail

NRL stars will be asked to put the game first in the fight for riches from the new broadcast deals, amid calls to bolster clubs and grow the game’s grassroots.

With many clubs struggling, officials will lobby chief executive Dave Smith for most of the new money to be allocated to them, rather than the salary cap, from 2018.

FRUSTRATED NRL clubs believe rugby league players do not deserve the riches of the new broadcast deal.

The Courier-Mail can reveal club officials will lobby chief executive Dave Smith for the majority of the new money to be allocated to them, rather than the salary cap, from 2018 onwards.

The Queensland Rugby League will argue the money should be spent on a reduction in junior registrati­on prices.

The Brisbane Broncos have made a strategic decision to not sign a single player past 2017 to best deal with the changing cap and annual grant.

Clubs are tired of the code’s increasing war chest being directed to players and want an extra $4 million in grant money from 2018.

Clubs are bleeding heavily, with the Broncos one of few clubs making a profit through their football department.

The code’s second tier is struggling with the Mackay Cutters among several clubs in financial strife.

The Nine Network this week committed to paying $925 million for five years of free-to-air NRL broadcasts.

When Foxtel, digital and internatio­nal rights are secured, the value of the entire deal will almost double the present one and finish around $1.8-$2 billion over five years.

NRL chiefs yesterday said they would be furious if the majority of that money was ploughed into the salary cap as it was in the last deal.

“We are all bleeding and the players already get too great a share of funding,” one chief executive said. “It is time to water the garden.”

There are 150 players, including 41 representa­tive stars, off contract at the end of 2017.

It will be the most intense meat market in NRL history.

There are concerns the lust for stars for 2018 will mean more clubs get desperate and eventually join the Gold Coast, St George Illawarra, Wests and Newcastle as partially NRL owned.

The clubs The Courier-Mail spoke to wanted the cap to in- crease from $7 million in 2017 to $9 million in 2018.

They also want the annual grant to increase from $7 million in 2017 to $11 million in 2018, creating a $2 million funding surplus.

The Broncos have prepared for this day. The contracts of Brisbane’s entire roster, from juniors to the players about to extend in Alex Glenn, Jordan an Kahu and Sam Thaiday, will ill end in October 2017.

QRL chairman Peter Betros os said NRL players now receive e approximat­ely 32 per cent of revenue and that share should d remain the same when the new deal begins.

“The players share of revenue should remain the same and I would like to see our juniors get looked after with cheaper registrati­on prices and our second-tier clubs looked after better as well,” Betros said.

Broncos chief Paul White said the new money needed to look after the game as a whole.

“Clubs are struggling financiall­y – in fact the vast majority of clubs are struggling financiall­y,” White said. “We won’t have a product unless we get them up and make sure they are financiall­y stable.

“The money is a terrific number. We all have a responsibi­lity now to make sure it gets to the areas in need.”

 ?? Picture: Gregg Porteous ?? SEEING STARS: Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston cops a heavy hit from Rabbitoh Glenn Stewart earlier this season.
Picture: Gregg Porteous SEEING STARS: Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston cops a heavy hit from Rabbitoh Glenn Stewart earlier this season.
 ??  ?? GAME IN NEED: Paul White says clubs are struggling.
GAME IN NEED: Paul White says clubs are struggling.

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