NRL footprint on agenda as Commission looks to broaden horizon

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has been asked by the ARL Commission to explore in-depth the future of the game as the game looks to broaden its footprint.

Topics like expansion or relocation have ignited heated debates among fans over the years and ARL chairman Peter Beattie believed it was time for the game to come up with a realistic footprint and has asked Greenberg to produce an official analysis within 12 months.

Coming towards the end of their first year of a five-year broadcast cycle agreement, clubs chairs and CEOs from all NRL teams were at Thursday's meeting and updates included a financial overview and updates on third-party agreements, the game's digital performance, participation and an outlook for 2019.

"It is easy to say we need to put new teams into places like Brisbane, New Zealand and Perth, but we first need to analyse the market and conduct a full business case," Greenberg said.

"Any concept of additional teams or a change in the format or structure to the competition would flow after 2022."

Beattie said it was crucial the Commission had all the facts to consider when signing off on decisions including maintaining playing standards if expansion went ahead, financial strategy and broadcast support.

"I've always been committed to it but when I got here I realised how bloody hard it was," Beattie said.

The NRL's future footprint discussion:

  • What is the optimal footprint for Rugby League in the Australasia and Pacific region;
  • Whether additional teams would dilute the standard of the Telstra Premiership;
  • The impact of expansion – or relocating teams - on participation numbers;
  • The financial cost of including additional teams in the competition;
  • Whether broadcasters support an expanded competition.

The latest string of off-field incidents took the gloss off the announcement with Greenberg inundated with questions surrounding coach Shane Flanagan's future at Cronulla, and the recent court cases involving Dylan Walker, Zane Musgrove and Jarryd Hayne.

Greenberg maintained the code was determined to let both the NRL Integrity Unit investigations and court cases run their course before handing down any punishments.