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NRL invests $10m into grassroots after posting second straight bumper surplus

A second straight surplus over $30 million has allowed the NRL to make a direct $10m investment into grassroots football, with NRL CEO Todd Greenberg saying a strong stance on player behaviour league-wide protected its revenue.

Initiatives like Magic Round, State of Origin in Perth and strong commercial growth led to a significant increase in non broadcast revenue for the game.

The surplus allowed for an increase in distributions to club and state members as well as the grassroots investment.

The NRL's net assets, which are largely still held as cash, have grown to $117.m, more than doubling over the past 24 months from $51.1m in the 2017 report and up from just $19.4m in 2012.

"We grew the revenue base of the game by just past $23 million. It's an outstanding result for us in 2019," said NRL CEO Todd Greenberg.

"We made some decisions this year that the surplus would come down a little bit because we put much more money into grassroots football. More than $10 million will be put back into grassroots participation this year."

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

The final reported surplus dropped to $30.1m for 2018-19, on the back of that additional investment, from $42.8m in 2017-18.

"Clubs, players, grassroots participation are being funded better than at any time in the game's history, as they should be," Greenberg added.

Greenberg said the no-fault stand-down rule, brought in after a spate of alleged incidents in the 2019 pre-season, was in large part responsible for averting a possible sponsor exodus.

"The introduction of the rule has helped us insure and retain our revenues and our audiences. And without it, I don't think that I'd be sitting here today as buoyant about our financial situation. I think it was a very, very important decision to protect us this time last year. 

"We are currently in a formal dispute process with the RLPA on this rule but it is important to note that The No-Fault Stand Down rule is protecting the game's revenues in order to pay the players and the financial upside we will achieve is shared 25 percent with the players."

Greenberg expected the NRL to announce the neutral venue for the 2022 Origin match within the next month or so. This year's neutral venue is Adelaide, with Melbourne to get another Origin clash in 2021.

While the NRL is serious about taking Origin to an overseas market, Greenberg said it would not happen in the current rights cycle.

"We want to consider if we can ever take an Origin international. That would probably go in the mix for the new broadcast deal,'' he said.