NRL Press Conference
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 03: Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V'landys speaks to the media during a NRL press conference at Rugby League Central on September 03, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The NRL’s plans to induce a 17th club to the league in 2023 looks to be waning as the impacts of COVID-19 continue to take their toll, per The Sunday Mail

ARL boss Peter V’landys has longed for the addition of a new Brisbane side to rival the Broncos at the nation’s highest level, but his plans of an NRL newcomer are fading as the league looks to recovery from the financial strain the 2020 season was placed under.

Whether or not the league decides to open bids for a 17th club, it is understood that the NRL remain months away from doing so, further delaying the chances of an inauguration in two years time.

The NRL was forced to cut $50 million in annual costs due to the global pandemic, with league officials now evaluating the impact a 17th club could have on the organisation’s budget moving forward.

A 17th side would keep the league at eight matches per round and leave one club with a bye every weekend, meaning little benefit would come via broadcast partnerships.

A new club would also threaten the current 16 clubs to have their $13 million handouts slashed in order to fund the startup of their newest rival.

With the ongoing delays and impacts of COVID-19, The Mail believes 2024 could be the most suitable window for the league’s 17th license, with a new club likely to require at least 18 months in advance of their opening fixture.

The Redcliffe Dolphins have been primed to match the needs of the NRL, while fellow Queensland clubs the Brisbane Bombers, Brisbane Firehawks and Western Corridor have made positive plays in recent years.