The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) today appointed Andrew Abdo as Chief Executive Officer of the National Rugby League (NRL).
Mr Abdo, who was appointed Interim CEO in April, joined the NRL in 2013 and most recently served as Chief Commercial Officer.
ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys AM said Mr Abdo had impressed the Commission with the way he has guided the game through the COVID-19 Pandemic and driving the NRL’s commercial growth in previous years.
“Andrew has done an outstanding job as Interim CEO. The Commission could not be happier with his work ethic and the way he has led the game through the pandemic. There’s no better person to take rugby league in a new innovative direction,’’ he said.
Mr V’landys said Mr Abdo’s ability to bring new revenue to the game in recent years would be vital as the Commission looks to secure the code’s long-term financial future.
“Andrew has one of the best commercial brains in Australian sport. He has been the one who has brought in the majority of our new non broadcast revenues. Prior to the pandemic our revenues had increased by 15 per cent, year on year, for the past four years and that was down to Andrew and his team.
“Andrew’s commercial and financial background is the perfect skillset for the game’s needs moving forward. We are re-setting our cost base and we need to make smart investments to set the game up for future generations. Andrew thinks outside the square and will look at ways to do things differently. Andrew also possesses a cool and calm temperament which is a vital asset with the many pressures of our great game.”
South African born and raised, Mr Abdo, 43, is a chartered accountant who worked for Deloitte in Johannesburg, Bermuda and Sydney before he joined the NRL.
“It’s an honour to be appointed CEO of the NRL. I want to thank the Commission for their support and setting the strategic direction to lead the game through the COVID-19 Pandemic. In particular, I want to thank Peter for his leadership and guidance. I’ve learnt so much from him and will continue to. The game is very lucky to have Peter as our Chairman,’’ he said.
Mr Abdo said he was looking forward to transforming the way the NRL functions.
“I’m looking forward to working with the Commission and all of our shareholders on creating a new era for rugby league where we think differently. We must stabilise, renovate and grow. In the short term we need to reset our cost base and ensure we retain our revenues. Then we must think innovatively about enhancing our game and ultimately seeking long term growth.”
Mr Abdo said rugby league had set the foundation for his relationships since he moved to Australia in 2012.
“I’ve been passionate about sport my entire life. When my wife and I decided to move to Australia it was rugby league that helped create our networks. Almost all of my friends and business relationships have come from rugby league,’’ he said.
Mr Abdo thanked all NRL Clubs, States and players for their support since he was appointed Interim CEO.
“What has impressed me the most during this pandemic is how the game has come together. Almost every week we have faced a new obstacle, but together we have found a way through to ensure the Telstra Premiership has not only continued but led the way in Australian sport. If we can continue that teamwork post COVID there is no limit to what we can achieve.“