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NRL looks to relocate financially troubled clubs under new licensing agreement
Financially troubled NRL clubs who continue to seek funds from the governing body will be forced to relocate under the game’s new licensing agreement.
While the NRL wants to implement an expansion strategy, it has been hampered by only one of its 16 clubs, the Brisbane Broncos in 2017, being able to run at a profit without the help of leagues club funding.
In an effort to help the NRL become more financially stable, the new agreement proposes that clubs that do not meet certain financial commitments risk being relocated or dissolved and their licence allocated to new markets.
Outlining the implications of this proposal, journalisy Paul Kent told NRL 360 “under the new agreement the NRL will have the ability to move clubs that are under financial stress to other markets.
“The NRL is back in talks with the clubs about the licensing agreement.
“What is going to be put into this agreement is a clause and if any of the clubs come under financial stress, the NRL has the ability to relocate them without the clubs say so.
“Essentially it gives the NRL power to say that we will help you financially, but you are going to Perth or Brisbane or New Zealand or wherever.
“Otherwise, it is move or die.”
It is believed that clubs who do take up the offer and relocate, will be offered financially rewarded.
The licensing agreement was last signed off on in 2015 after then ARL Chairman John Grant gave each club a $13 million grant, but the terms are renegotiated every five years.
Kent added that NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg and the ARLC Commission are also exploring the idea of expanding the competition to 18 teams.
He commented “there's also talk going around about a competition expansion to perhaps 18 teams and the NRL will explore the financial value of a second Brisbane team or a Perth team for example, and will put that as an incentive on the table for clubs to say 'should we move?’
"If you're a Sydney team and you're in trouble you might say 'let's just pack up and move the caravans up the road'.
"The other thing they are talking about is the licensing talks that will give them greater control over who has a license so if one of the private owners like Russell Crowe or Scott Penn wants to sell the club, the NRL has the ability to say 'you have an offer here from a guy in Perth, you have an offer here from a guy in Bankstown - we're going to make you take the first one'.
"The unspoken part to it is that once you get commitment from the clubs is the NRL then has the capacity to then start ratcheting up what it costs to stay in the game, to stay competitive, until a team finally gets themselves into financial stress and gives them no option.”
Out of the nine Sydney clubs, Manly are seen as the most vulnerable to be forced to relocate while the often-troubled Cronulla have reportedly secured their future with a $40 million deal to fast-track the long planned redevelopment centred on their Southern Cross Group Stadium home venue.
The development agreement will reportedly sees the club gain immediate access to $9 million in funds.
Lower images shows the 2012 plan for the redevelopment around the Cronulla Sharks home venue as approved by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
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