ARLC Chairman Peter V'landys says expansion will always remain on the table. Picture: AAP/Joel Carrett
ARLC Chairman Peter V'landys says expansion will always remain on the table. Picture: AAP/Joel Carrett

Second NRL Queensland team won’t die with coronavirus

Peter V'landys is adamant Queensland's hopes of securing a new NRL team are not dead and the game is months away from agreeing to a broadcast deal extension.

The crippling financial toll of the coronavirus pandemic has sent shockwaves through the NRL and will result in costs being slashed across the code.

Clubs will be expected to reduce their expenditure and players will be paid less from next year because of an "unsustainable cost structure".

The suspension of the 2020 season last month threatened to send the NRL broke, but the premiership's resumption on May 28 will see crucial cash start to flow back into the game.

Before COVID-19 shut down the country, speculation about a 17th team based in Brisbane joining the NRL from 2023 was the hottest topic in the game.

The suspension has thrust the NRL into damage control, but ARL Commission chairman V'landys said it had not killed the prospect of expansion despite original plans to open the team bidding process later this year.

"We have been so focused on the current crisis that we haven't really thought about expansion, it hasn't really come back up," he told The Sunday Mail.

"If expansion was to proceed it's still two years away.

"If anything this may have assisted it because we're looking at a cost structure at the moment that is unsustainable.

"In the future it will cost less to bring a team in because the clubs are going to have to reduce their expenditure. It's not going to be as expensive as it is at the moment.

 

Brisbane Bombers. Picture: Annette Dew
Brisbane Bombers. Picture: Annette Dew

 

"Out of every negative comes a positive. In this case, if we get our cost structure down it will mean the club is running at a lot less. It gives money back to the clubs.

"We haven't given it much focus but that doesn't mean it's not on the agenda. At the moment we have greater priorities.

"Once we get moving on the football and look at our cost structure then we will do an analysis to see if expansion is viable."

The NRL's broadcasters - Channel 9 and Foxtel - have pushed to extend their agreement beyond 2022 as part of negotiations to restart the current season.

On Friday night, the broadcasters formally agreed to reboot the 2020 season on May 28 and a competition structure will be finalised this week, with a minimum of 17 rounds before finals and State of Origin.

The introduction of a new Queensland team in 2023 would impact the negotiations of the next broadcast deal.

V'landys said it was premature to negotiate an extension to the broadcast deal beyond 2022 because of the amount of work needed to get the current season back underway.

"Expansion would impact the broadcast deal but not to a great degree," he said.

"This extension isn't going to happen tomorrow, it is months away. We can analyse it then as to the effect it has on broadcast.

 

V’landys has been in constant contact with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
V’landys has been in constant contact with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

 

"All that is being discussed with the broadcasters at the moment is this year.

"They certainly want to talk about future years, which we will do because we're partners, but that's not the focus at the moment.

"The focus at the moment is on this year and we will talk about other years once we resolve all these matters.

"It's one step at a time. Crawl before you can walk."

A major factor in the NRL's season structure planning is to reach a resolution in the Queensland border issue which is threatening to make the Broncos, Cowboys and Titans relocate to NSW.

V'landys said he planned to talk to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this week after the NRL submitted its biosecurity plans to the government late Friday.

"We'll certainly be talking to the Premier next week, we have made arrangements to talk next week," he said.

"The Premier is focused on the crisis and not rugby league which is why we've let it go as long as possible.

"Now the infection rate is so low in Queensland it's more appropriate to have a discussion with her.

"We look forward to talking next week."

Originally published as Second NRL QLD team won't die with coronavirus


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