Players target extra funds after bumper NRL broadcast deals

The Rugby League Players Association is targeting additional revenue to be directed to their members ahead of the additional funding that is set to flow into the National Rugby League, the top division of the sport in Australia, chiefly through its new broadcast rights deal.

In November, rights for the NRL were acquired by pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports and the Telstra telecommunications company. The deals will run for five years, from 2018 to 2022.

In August, Nine retained domestic free-to-air rights for the NRL in a deal worth A$185m (€133m/$141m) per season over the five-year cycle. The new deals with Fox Sports and Telstra have pushed the overall value of the cycle to A$1.8bn – a 70-per-cent increase on the current cycle with the same partners.

The Sydney Morning Herald said the key issue discussed at the RLPA’s annual general meeting held this week was ensuring players are properly compensated for the final two years of its collective bargaining agreement with the NRL, which is due for renewal after the 2017 season.

The newspaper said the RLPA is seeking an extra A$4.5m over the final two years of the agreement – 2016 and 2017. The move will reportedly set the groundwork for negotiations over the next CBA, which are set to commence later this year.

RLPA chief executive Ian Prendergast said: “The main priorities at the moment include reviewing the workloads and time off players receive to strike the right balance going forward and maintaining the players' share of industry revenue over the last two years of the collective bargaining agreement in light of extra money coming into the game. We are continuing to have productive dialogue with the NRL and ARLC (Australian Rugby League Commission) and are hopeful of achieving favourable outcomes in these areas.”