Green­berg to bor­row $30m for clubs

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT - PHIL ROTHFIELD

THE NRL has been forced to ap­ply for a $ 30 mil­lion bank loan to pay for club fund­ing agree­ments it could never af­ford.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Todd Green­berg not only needs ap­proval from the banks but also broad­cast­ers Chan­nel 9 and Fox Sports, who will act as “guar­an­tors”.

This is the sec­ond in­jec­tion of cash the NRL has needed in 2017, hav­ing al­ready re­ceived a $50 mil­lion ad­vance from Fox Sports to ease its cash­flow prob­lems.

The need for the $30 mil­lion loan arose af­ter the in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion caved in to the 16 clubs on fund­ing deals from 2018 on­wards.

Af­ter 18 months of ne­go­ti­a­tions, com­mis­sion chair­man John Grant even­tu­ally guar­an­teed the clubs $13 mil­lion a year in an­nual grants at a cost of more than $1 bil­lion over the five years of the broad­cast­ing deal.

It saved his job and got rid of a no-confidence mo­tion in his lead­er­ship.

Yet the NRL bean coun­ters quickly dis­cov­ered they won’t have the money when the first club in­stal­ments are due to be handed out in Novem­ber.

Only the $30 mil­lion loan would en­sure the clubs get what they were guar­an­teed.

It’s one of the rea­sons why Grant had no choice but to con­firm he will leave in Fe­bru­ary at the end of his term.

Un­der the strate­gic plan that Grant pub­lished soon af­ter the in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion came into power, the game was sup­posed to have $200 mil­lion in the bank by 2017 in a fu­ture fund.

In­stead, it has ba­si­cally got noth­ing.

It’s not help­ing the NRL in that it still hasn’t sold the Gold Coast Ti­tans or the New­cas­tle Knights to pri­vate own­ers.

Both clubs are los­ing about $2 mil­lion a year un­der the NRL’s own­er­ship.

Also, the com­mis­sion was forced to save a des­per­ate St Ge­orge Illawarra with a $6.5 mil­lion loan — money that still hasn’t been re­paid by the joint-ven­ture club.

The new $30 mil­lion loan will be paid off over the five years of the broad­cast deal and will at­tract mil­lions of dol­lars in in­ter­est.

Plac­ing fur­ther pres­sure on the NRL ad­min­is­tra­tion is the on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Rugby League Players’ As­so­ci­a­tion over its mem­bers’ fu­ture salaries.

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