NRL: NRL’s $1 billion deal; Daley gets Blues job; FFA appoints Gallop
What a day? It was all happening! Not quite an ordinary Tuesday, today, was it?
Most of the time, especially in the mid-week, the back pages of a newspaper are full of non-issues just because column inches and deadlines have to be reached as is the norm in the media industry. But not tomorrow!
Four big stories broke on the same day. Must be just a coincidence, right? Unless you’re a conspiracy theorist.
First thing in the morning, I heard the news of the New Zealand Warriors sacking coach Brian McLennan after a miserable season. This news was not at all surprising. His last game as coach was the final straw, a loss to the lowly Penrith at home. Ironically, Penrith’s coach is Ivan Cleary, who coached New Zealand to a successful season in which they finished runners-up to Manly, an over-achievement deserving of an A+ mark. Sitting fourth last with an 8-14 record, they have looked rudderless and to make matters worse, the lost star five-eighth James Maloney, who signed with the Sydney Roosters mid-season. The Warriors assistant coach Tony Iro will coach the last two games of the season.
Then came the news of something I was keenly awaiting and am very much interested in. Gone are the days of sporting governing bodies relying on gate-takings to run their business. The NRL and AFL especially rely heavily nowadays on TV rights as their no.1 form of revenue. When the new independent ARL Commission was established in February, sorting out the tv rights was right at the top of their priority list.
More or less, the 2013-2017 deal is a replica of the 2008-2012 contract, with a few subtle changes. Free-to-air provider NINE still have, exclusively, three games a round, two Friday night games and one Sunday afternoon game. The other five games are live and ad-free on pay-tv, and don’t the PR guys at Fox Sports just love mentioning ‘live’, ‘ad-free’ and ‘in HD’?
The deal is worth $1.025 billion and means the NRL has no intentions of expanding the number of teams any time soon. Some changes is that the NRL Grand Final is back to Sunday nights, and Sunday nights will be a more common fixture within the season, with Fox Sports having 13 games with a 6:30pm kick-off. And also no floating fixture, so the first 20 rounds of the season are set in stone, with the final six rounds fixed by Round 16. This will help in the logistics of all concerned.
All up, I’m neither thrilled nor disappointed with the arrangement. I’m one of the few that like NINE as the FTA broadcaster, especially since I’ll continue to hear the ‘voice of league’, Ray Warren. He is one of my favourite commentators and declared a few days ago that he would retire from commentating if NINE lost the rights.
On the flipside, I would have liked the NRL to do what the AFL did and have all games live on Foxtel, to fill in any black holes.
Then broke the news of Laurie Daley as the new coach of the NSW Blues for the next two State-of-Origin campaigns. The decision satisfies the criteria of a non-NRL coach that the NSW board demanded. Daley takes over from Ricky Stuart, who stood down to coach Parramatta but did not rule himself from having some Origin involvement. The former Canberra Raiders centre and five-eighth beat other candidates including Trent Barrett, Brad Fittler and Daniel Anderson. Next year, Daley will aim to snap Queensland’s dynasty of seven straight series wins.
And last but not least, the NRL’s former boss David Gallop will replace Ben Buckley as CEO of Football Federation Australia. But Gallop won’t actually take up the position until after the A-League’s own broadcast rights are sorted out, which should be finalised within the next two months. Although Gallop received lots of flak from the public, he is highly rated as an administrator. It is thanks to him that the NRL has caught up to the AFL, at least as a monetary commodity. Perhaps the only two CEOs in Australian sport that are better are the authoritative Andrew Demetriou (AFL) and James Sutherland (Cricket Australia).
The A-League is still fledgling with poor crowds at some games, no free-to-air coverage of any A-League or Socceroos matches (outside of the World Cup) and the failed expansion of the now defunct North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United.
I’m very curious to see how much success David Gallop can bring to football in Australia in the near future. And I only said success because it’s going to be pretty hard to get worse than what it is now, so the only way is up!
Slow news day? Hardly!
Over and out!
You can follow me on Twitter: @farhanshah195.