NRL clubs will be required to have a chief executive and other senior officials to receive certain grants from the ARL Commission under a proposed new funding model aimed at ensuring their viability.
Nanjing Night Net

The proposal, which is likely to have clubs receive different levels of funding depending on their needs, was the major topic of discussion at this week’s meeting of NRL clubs. Since taking control of the game on February 10, the ARLC has been auditing clubs as part of a benchmarking process that will determine future funding.

It is understood that all clubs will continue to receive an annual grant from the ARLC that will cover the salary cap, which is expected to be $5 million next season.

However, they will be able to apply for additional funding to help pay for initiatives such as membership campaigns and match-day promotions.

To have the opportunity to apply for such grants, the Herald was told, clubs would be required to have a chief executive, a marketing manager, a membership manager and a community relations manager.

The club most obviously affected would be Cronulla, which does not have a chief executive and has fewer staff than any of their rivals.

The Sharks’ set-up involves football manager Darren Mooney overseeing the day-to-day running of the football club, while chairman Damian Irvine is responsible for board matters. It is believed that the Sharks are now planning to appoint a chief executive.

Struggling clubs will also be able to apply for assistance grants but to receive extra funding they will have to meet certain conditions set down by the ARLC about how they are run.

It is understood the ARLC wants the clubs to operate more like businesses and is concerned that Brisbane and South Sydney were the only clubs whose football operations did not run at a loss last season.

Without funding from leagues clubs or private owners, few clubs would be financially viable and the new funding model is understood to have been proposed by the ARLC.

It was discussed at the meeting of clubs, which were asked to provide feedback before the ARLC council meeting on August 27. In attendance at the meeting will be the chief executive and chairman of each club as well as the eight ARLC commissioners.

The clubs are also seeking assurances they will receive the $500,000 each that they were promised late last year would be forthcoming once the new television deal is finalised.

Several club chief executives said that Tuesday’s NRL Club Council meeting did not discuss the broadcast rights negotiations, the search for a new ARLC chief executive or issues such as refereeing standards.

“The common issue that people continue to have is financial viability of clubs, so there was a lot of interesting discussion about that and the approach the commission will have in coming years to addressing that problem,” one said.

“That is the fundamental issue the clubs have. All of that other operational stuff is not things that clubs can or should have any interest or input into and people saying otherwise is just pure speculation. Whoever the new CEO is, it will be the best man or woman for the job.”

The Herald has been told that the number of contenders for the chief executive’s job is down to two after interviews last week with applicants on a short-list of six.

It is rumoured that the successful candidate is someone whose name has been linked to the job previously and is from outside the game – sparking speculation the AFL’s No.2, Gillon McLachlan, has been offered a $750,000 package.

McLachlan was reportedly in Sydney for a meeting on Thursday, which AFL boss Andrew Demetriou said was to talk to the AFL’s broadcast partners, not to talk to the rival code.

”It would be surprising to me if someone hadn’t spoken to him, or hadn’t approached him, because he [is] very talented,” Demetriou told radio 3AW. ”He is a very dedicated AFL person, loves the game and has been a great servant to myself and the game for 12 years. I hope he sticks around.”

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