Colin Smith, the consultant who helped the AFL secure $780 million from its last television rights deal, has now been assigned the job of aiding the NRL in bettering its rival this time around, admitted the fine print in the federal government’s anti-siphoning legislation would be of some concern to league administrators.
Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is yet to announce his department’s clarification on a critical area of the new anti-siphoning laws, which will take effect on New Year’s Day. The new regulations have removed five of eight NRL matches a week from the list, a potential boon for the code. The AFL will have a similar deal in place, for four of its matches a week.
The devil might be in the detail – the fine print declared that ”the government will not delist any NRL or AFL games until a mechanism which protects the quality of free-to-air games has been settled”.
While certain the NRL’s next deal will be significantly more than the existing $500 million contract, which runs out at the end of 2012, Smith did concede the NRL and AFL would be concerned by the ”mechanism”. In essence, the government is yet to decide who will pick the matches – the NRL or the broadcasters – and how they do it.
With a $4.2m NRL salary cap for each club, the NRL is unable to compete with its rivals when it comes to paying top dollar for its superstars. A significant increase in the broadcast deal will change that.