A conference meeting of club chief executives has backed a strategic drive by the NRL to take membership levels to a new level in transforming the supporter base of the game.
The NRL has outlined plans for a Membership Summit bringing together international speakers, local experts and all 16 teams to strategically target ways of doubling membership numbers over the next three years.
The game’s biggest names have been engaged in creating a game-wide marketing campaign promoting both the benefits and values of membership and the importance of it to the future growth of attendances and clubs.
The NRL is investing in working with clubs to grow a game-wide membership culture that puts members and fans first and which makes being a member of a club even more rewarding.
“This is about motivating football fans to become a member of a club,” NRL chief executive Dave Smith said.
“It is about broadening the supporter base across traditional fans, families, women and people from all backgrounds.
“Our aim is to make membership part of being a football fan and making it the most affordable and rewarding way to be a part of the game.
“This is much more than a marketing campaign it is focussed on building a whole new culture about the way we enjoy the game.
“Importantly, this is also an example of how clubs and the NRL can co-invest in strategies to grow the game.”
Friday’s CEO’s telephone conference also discussed the progress of key strategic reviews commissioned by the NRL as well as receiving an update on the 2014 season draw process.
The NRL’s Elite Pathways Review which has included a comprehensive assessment of the interaction between the NSW and Queensland Cups, the Holden Cup and the Telstra Premiership will be presented to the NRL Commission in November and to a meeting of club CEO’s in December.
The review highlights the importance of the NSW and Queensland Cups and the unique strength of the NRL pathways system.
“The overwhelming feedback is that people want to see greater promotion of the NSW and Queensland Cups,” Chief Operating Officer Mr Jim Doyle said.
“We are looking to build greater connections between NRL clubs and those in both the NSW and Queensland.
“Seeing the winners of the two competitions playing on Grand Final day, for instance, is a way of underlining the links with the grass roots as well as a celebration of local heroes.
“There is strong support for the winners of the two competitions playing on Grand Final Day.
“The Holden Cup is certainly going to remain a pivotal pathway in our game but more and more people will recognise the extent to which the State Leagues are the immediate springboard into the NRL.”
Mr Doyle also flagged the Chief Executives’ Conference of December 4-5 as a key date in the Salary Cap review process that has already seen extensive consultation with clubs, sponsors, player managers and media representatives.
The Salary Cap Review has encompassed studies of systems in Australia and overseas and has canvassed a wide range of proposals.
“We are still in the process of collecting and analysing all of the ideas out there,” Mr Doyle told the CEOs.
“By the time we next meet with the CEOs we will be looking for their input on the suggestions that we most want to see considered.
“Much of what we are talking about is going to affect the 2015 season and beyond but if there are short term issues that don’t impact on the financial planning already in place at clubs then we will look at those.”
Clubs were updated on the NRL 2014 season draw process with the draw expected to be finalised later this month and will again provide a fixed schedule for members and fans.
“At this stage no matches are locked in but we do have all of the information we need from clubs and broadcasters and the process is well and truly underway,” NRL Head of Football, Mr Todd Greenberg, said today.
The CEOs also received an update on the Auckland Nine’s following the launch of the inaugural competition draw this week.
“The reaction in New Zealand has been overwhelming and ticket sales are already ahead of projections,” NRL Head of Commercial Paul Kind said.
“It is already being seen as an event of national significance in New Zealand and there is a real commitment to seeing it succeed.”
The CEOs have agreed to hold their first meeting of the 2014 season in Auckland during the event.