NRL set to sign off on historic $2.3BILLION TV broadcast deal with Nine and Foxtel that will save the game – as referees threaten to strike over plans to go back to one official on field
- ARLC chairman Peter V’landys aims to sign seven year $2.3billion deal by Friday
- Contract will be the most lucrative sport broadcast deal in Australian history
- News comes as NRL plans to go ahead with one on field referee in season reboot
- Changing the NRL structure back to one on field referee would save $1million
- Referees found out about the proposal from Project Apollo in a release on Friday
- Officials are considering striking, which would put the May 28 restart in jeopardy
- Experts say the restart could be an opportunity to make changes for the future
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
The NRL is set to sign the most lucrative sport broadcasting deal in the history of Australian sport worth $2.3billion.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys is hoping to finalise the seven year TV deal with Fox Sports and Channel 9 by Friday and give a much needed financial injection to the cash strapped NRL.
The deal will average out to around $330million per season until 2027 and effectively guarantee the survival of all 16 clubs after the financial turmoil due to the outbreak of COVID-19 threatened to destroy the game.
The contract has been discounted for the 2020 season as the NRL season has been shortened to 20 matches, though the league are confident their ratings will grow as fans are unable to go to games.
Global Media and Sports boss Colin Smith praised V’landys for producing an incredible deal for the league.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys is hoping to sign the NRL’s enormous new broadcast deal by Friday, which would be the most lucrative sports broadcasting deal in Australian history
‘Peter V’landys has been the saviour of the NRL, no doubt for me,’ Smith told The Sunday Telegraph.
‘In this climate, if you ask what represents a good broadcast deal, I would say anything from $300 million to $350m a year is an excellent result.
‘V’landys is a master negotiator, he is a street fighter and he is not afraid to take the bull by the horns. He looks at the outcome and he actually delivers on it.’
The news comes as NRL referees have threatened to strike after plans to revert back to one official on the field in matches in the season restart were revealed.
The NRL are scheduled to recommence the 2020 season on May 28, with the Project Apollo innovations committee recommending the change back to one referee, which would save the game around $1million.
The Professional Rugby League Match Officials Incorporated believe the NRL have breached an agreement with the proposal and have threatened to abstain from matches in the third round.
PRLMO chairman Silvio Del Vecchio told The Sun Herald referees were told of the plan at the same time a media release was issued on Friday afternoon.
Sydney Roosters captain Boyd Cordner questions referee Ben Cummins in the 2019 NRL grand final
PRLMO chairman Silvio Del Vecchio said referees are livid at the NRL’s proposal to revert back to one on field official
‘Any planned changes impacting players would surely have gone through the Rugby League Players Association,’ he said. ‘The NRL ought to show the referees the same respect. We will continue to work closely with our members; they have asked us to explore our options for industrial action if it were to come to that.’
‘We have long sought a relationship with the NRL based on mutual respect and transparency. If the NRL genuinely want to restart the competition on May 28, they will need to consider a conciliatory approach towards our members moving forward.’
The NRL has run with two referees on the field during matches since 2009, when a secondary official was introduced to control the ruck and have a close eye on tackles and the play-the-ball.
There are many opinions on what a change in the on field officiating structure will do to the game, with one referee leading to a reduction in penalties in the ruck which will speed up the flow of the game.
Gold Coast Titans star Tyrone Roberts grills a referee during a match between the Titans and the New Zealand Warriors on the Gold Coast in June 2019
Project Apollo have introduced the six-again rule to in an effort to continue the run of play, though wrestling tactics will not be policed, with many believing this will slow movement around the ruck.
Referees are being paid 80 per cent of their salary after coronavirus induced pay cuts from the NRL and losing an on field official will put many referees jobs at risk.
Sydney Roosters coach and Project Apollo committee member Trent Robinson said a decision on the number of on field referees has not been finalised.
He believes reverting back to one official would please the purists of the game and the NRL restart could be an opportunity to trial a new model of officiating for the future.
‘Any rule change you make on the ruck will have the biggest significant change in our game,’ he said. ‘We need to be really prudent about what we do here and what it will look like.’
Trent Robinson said the NRL season restart could be an opportunity to trial a new way of officiating for the future of the game