National Rugby League Clubs have today committed to exploring new ways of growing game day opportunities for fans and increasing attendances.
At the heart of discussions is a general review of stadium strategies commencing with the Sydney market and extending to Queensland and other regional areas.
The process began following today’s Chief Executives meeting with the nine Sydney Clubs committing to an analysis of all game day options including venues, transport, catering costs and scheduling. It will examine membership benefits at both home and away matches.
“It is about taking a clean sheet of paper approach and looking at how the draw, the venues and the club membership programs can all be integrated in ways that benefit clubs, their members and fans,” Australian Rugby League Commission, Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today.
“People need to be careful in that this is not about abandoning traditional suburban venues.
“It is about getting the right games in the right stadiums to grow attendances to a new level and offer increased value for members and fans.
“The traditional approach has been for each club to sell its own home game but increasingly clubs are looking for ways to grow attendances at every game and to ensure members have opportunities home and away.
“This is going to involve significant discussion with Stadiums, clubs and governments and it is very much a case of researching opportunities rather than imposing an outcome.
“It is important that the clubs and the ARLC work together to look for ways to grow the game.”
Today’s full meeting of Chief Executives was given a brief overview of the Television rights negotiation process which confirmed that initial bids had been received from Channel Nine and Fox Sports and that there would be talks with other networks this week.
“We expect to achieve a very good deal for the game but we will not be commenting on the negotiations on an ongoing basis,” Mr Gallop said.
“We all have to accept that there is now going to be a lot of speculation and commercial positioning.
“It remains however a complex process that requires a high level of confidentiality.
“We have worked closely with the clubs over a number of years to prepare for these negotiations and given the strength of Rugby League’s television audiences we are comfortable with our position in the market.”
In relation to an announcement by Optus today that it would seek leave to appeal to the High Court over the recent Federal Court’s decision to support the sports broadcast rights, Mr Gallop said:
“We believe the Full Bench of the Federal Court made the right decision.
“Companies should not be able to profit from our content without investing in the sport itself.”
Today’s Chief Executives meeting also discussed the need for a wider discussion on NRL pathways and in particular the open age second tier competitions.
While there remained a strong commitment to the Toyota Cup Under 20’s being linked to the Telstra Premiership draw, the importance of the VB NSW and Intrust Super Cups needed to remain a key focus.
The issue will form a key agenda item at the next Chief Executive Meeting on June 13.