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Australian Rugby League Commission agrees expansion plans for 17th NRL team

Australian Rugby League Commission agrees expansion plans for 17th NRL team
October 8, 2021

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) is reported to have officially approved a 17th team joining the NRL as of the 2023 season.

The decision to introduce a 17th team into the competition was agreed during a meeting with the 16 existing NRL clubs on Wednesday, during which ARLC Chair Peter V’landys informed clubs of a $50 million surplus for the League during the current season.

The announcement of the surplus is understood to have resulted in heated discussion over whether the existing clubs should receive additional funding. All 16 clubs currently receive an annual grant of $13 million, but were hoping for an additional $1 million each.

The expansion team will join the competition in 2023 with South East Queensland teams the Brisbane Firehawks, Redcliffe Dolphins and Brisbane Jets vying for the spot - with the Dolphins believed to be the frontrunners.

Welcome the notion of a 17th team, Melbourne Storm Chairman, Matt Tripp told News Corp that a new team will drive revenue, sponsorship and better broadcast deals.

Tripp told News Corp “absolutely there is room for a second Brisbane team.

“If I wasn’t chairman of the Melbourne Storm and I was Matt Tripp the rugby league fan and someone said to me should there be a second club in Brisbane, I would say yes, 100%.

“Of course, those comments might be to the short-term detriment of the Storm but taking a long-term view, I don’t think it will be detrimental at all.

“Expansion will be great for the game.

“While the talent pool will be thin for a period, as long as the game continues to evolve and improve and stay an elite sport in this country, it will then warrant better broadcast deals, better sponsorship, all the things that can drive revenue and bring people to the game.”

Tripp went on to state “if the foundations are right and the game is being handled right at the top, which it is in my opinion, the NRL is ready for a second Brisbane team.”

The expansion is being driven following a commitment by with News Corp to invest $75 million into the sport over the next five years.

The Herald Sun reported the NRL has pledged to reduce the number of free-to-air games involving News Corp-owned Brisbane Broncos by 25% as part of the deal.

The NRL reportedly convinced News Corp a new team in Brisbane and the reduction of Brisbane Broncos free-to-air games would increase Kayo and Fox Sports subscriptions across Queensland due to the network having fewer audience viewers than NSW because the Broncos games are available so regularly.

A decision on which club will form the NRL’s next team is expected imminently.

Images: The Storm take on the Cowboys at the Sunshine Coast Stadium during the 2020 NRL season (top) and the Redcliffe Dolphins' home ground is ready for elite level competition (below).

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