The NRL will hand out a combined $7 million in COVID-19 relief packages to clubs to make up for lost revenue through a lack of crowds and home games.
- NRL Boss Andrew Abdo says relocating to Queensland and not being able to have crowds at times has hurt the game “significantly”
- Both the NRL and its clubs will take further hits throughout the finals series
- Saturday’s Penrith-Parramatta clash alone will suffer an estimated $1.5 million loss
Clubs in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria have been doing it tough due to lockdowns and closed leagues venues affecting their bottom lines.
Each club will be paid around $100,000 for every home game lost either to relocation or to matches being played without crowds.
In Sydney, the NRL last played in front of fans in late June, while Queensland clubs were impacted by the loss of almost two weekends without spectators.
At the end of this season, the NRL is counting its own cost of relocations that have added another $30 million to expenses as well as another $30 million in lost revenue.
“The game has fought hard this year to keep going amidst the challenges of the pandemic,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.
“The NRL has had growth in commercial revenues and has also reduced costs significantly.
“Therefore, the commission approved some further financial support for the clubs arising from the impact of COVID-19 on the [sport’s] financial ecosystem, particularly for clubs [that] have had to relocate and not play in front of their home crowds.”
Finals income down too
Both the NRL and its clubs will continue to feel the pinch through the finals series, with an estimated $1.5 million lost from Saturday’s Penrith-Parramatta clash.
That match would have been expected to sell out 30,000 seats at Western Sydney Stadium or draw close to 50,000 at Sydney Olympic Park, but it will now have just 12,000 fans in Mackay.
South Sydney Rabbitoh’s home final — against either the Sydney Roosters or the Manly Sea Eagles — next week faces a similar scenario.
Merchandise and leagues clubs spending will also be down for the teams that make the grand final and the team that eventually wins the premiership.
Dally M change
The NRL also confirmed on Thursday the Dally M awards would be held over two nights for the first time.
Under the new system, the race for the Dally M Medal will be narrowed down to a five-man shortlist after the first night.
Top try-scorer, points-scorer, tackle of the year, try of the year and hard-earned award will all be handed out on September 20, before the major gongs are announced on September 27.