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NRL clubs received an additional $13.8 million in funding above their annual $7.2 million grants last season but some are unhappy they had little control in how it was spent.
The NRL recently announced an operating surplus of $49.9 million for the 2014 season but there is disenchantment among some clubs that the figure included $28.1 million directed at growth initiatives and strategic priorities to build future value for the game.
Of that money, $17.9 million was paid directly to clubs and the state leagues, including $450,000 per club to strengthen their financial position and operational capability, and $1.9 million for the establishment of a central support unit to assist clubs with financial sustainability and commercial opportunities.
An additional $4.8 million was invested to support clubs in growing their membership base and game day attendances, while the NRL funded the appointment of a dedicated careers coach for players at each of the 16 clubs.
Other areas identified by the NRL as spending on growth and strategic priorities include: $4.1 million to improve the quality of the NSW and Queensland state leagues and establish the state championship grand final between the winners;the establishment of the NRL’s own statistics company, which provides data for fans and coaches;$5.4 million to honour a commitments to community, welfare and education, included funding The Men of League and establishing the Rise For Alex fund.
The NRL also spent $1.7 million in supporting research and development proposals for stadiums and high performance units for a number of clubs.
NRL officials believe that is a small sum to pay for $700 million of commitments in Sydney and Townsville for rectangular stadiums and point out that AFL had previously monopolised government funding for major Stadium projects. The NSW Government has allocated $600 million on rectangular stadiums in Sydney, while the Queensland Government will provide $100 million for a new stadium in Townsville.
The NRL is offering clubs a further $250,000 in funding this year if they meet certain growth targets, but the money must be spent on improving the business and not the football department.
However; some club bosses believe they should have greater control over how the $344.9 million revenue the game generated last season should be spent and the issue will be discussed at a meeting of club chairmen. While there is genuine discontent among some clubs, Fairfax Media was told that the majority are supportive of the NRL and believe the game is in far better shape than before the advent of the ARL Commission in 2012.
“Those that appear aggrieved did not even turn up to ask a question at the AGM,” South Sydney chairman Nicholas Pappas said. “Instead they wage a nameless campaign through the media. We are light years away from where we were as a game and some have very short memories of just how far we have come. We all now need to focus on how we can improve our own businesses rather than publicly ravaging our code.”
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