ARL chairman Peter V'landys has been re-elected chairman at Friday's annual general meeting as the governing body posted stronger than anticipated financial results for 2020.
Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ARL Commission has announced it recorded a full year deficit of $24.7 million, which does not include revenue from the 2020 Ampol State of Origin series.
Due to the rescheduled season, Origin was played later than normal, after the ARL's financial year kicked off on November 1.
Had the Origin series been played in the 2020 financial year as normal, the ARLC would have recorded a $3.7 million deficit.
NRL revenue was reduced by more than $130 million, or 25%, due to a 20% reduction in Telstra Premiership games being played, not having crowds at matches and other decreases in broadcast, commercial and game-day profits caused by the pandemic.
The ARLC reduced operating expenses by 32% despite a significant increase in competition expenses with COVID-19 protocols, which included chartering flights for game-day travel.
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V’landys said the Commission had ensured all 16 clubs and the state leagues had emerged from the pandemic financially secure and the overall finances of the game were in better shape than anticipated.
"We increased net payments for clubs by 300% to ensure they all stayed viable and have funds for the future," he said.
"This is in stark contrast to other sports which either reduced funding to their clubs or maintained the same level of funding in their clubs’ time of need given the disastrous impact of COVID-19 on their other sources of revenue.
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"The game faced financial catastrophe when we were forced to suspend the season in March.
"I’m pleased to report that because we were able to resume the season so quickly and re-negotiate new deals with our partners, the game finished the financial year in much stronger shape than first predicted.
"We’ve recorded a modest deficit and had State of Origin been played in the 2020 financial year we would have been close to breaking even.
"What I’m most pleased about is that these results were achieved while ensuring the financial security of all stakeholders. The Commission made it a priority to make sure all clubs were provided with additional funding to ensure they survived the pandemic."
Focusing on the fans, rugby league's main customer, was key to their strategy.
"We have focused on the customer – prioritising rule changes to make the game faster and more entertaining and we’ve commenced work on reviving suburban grounds and bringing tribalism back for the fans," he said.
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"We also completed a significant cost reduction program to make head office more cost effective.
"I want to thank everyone involved in rugby league – our players, clubs, states, broadcast and commercial partners and rugby league staff for playing a role in the success of the 2020 season and the sacrifices they made. Today’s results are the outcome of the entire game working together."