The exodus of stars from the NRL will become history under a new television rights deal that will lift club salary cap from $4.3 million to $7 million for the 2013 season and provide minimum $100,000 pay rises to senior players.
At least 80 new “jobs” will be created for players who have been lost to the British Super League and rival codes in recent seasons under the plan, which will also double the NRL’s annual grant to the clubs from $3.65 million to $7.5 million.
The money from the looming TV deal, worth an estimated $1 billion over five years, will allow clubs to increase their current 25-man NRL rosters to 30 to address the serious issue of player burnout in a season crammed with 26 rounds, finals, State of Origin, Tests and City-Country.
Likely expansion into Perth, Central Coast or Brisbane would not have an impact on the handouts to the clubs because of extra television revenue that would be generated from an additional game every weekend.
Even with the huge club grants and the player payment windfall, the NRL would have enough money left over to build a war chest of up to $20 million a year for the sport’s development.
Even with the $20 million put away for a future fighting fund, it would still leave the NRL with $60 million a year for operating costs a substantial improvement on its current budget.
Further costs will be saved from a streamlined organisation that removes duplication of administration.
The bold new plans to future-proof rugby league for the next generation will be debated and dissected in finer detail once the new independent commission is up and running hopefully by this year’s NRL finals.
Player agents across the game are now instructing or advising their stars to hold back on signing long-term deals because of the expected windfall that will come with the 2013 salary cap.
Efforts will be made to entice recent code-switchers back to the fold.