The Australian Rugby League Commission unveiled a five-year game plan that outlines a strategy and the funding principles that will drive the National Rugby League's future. The NRL's strategic plan forecasts that by '17:
- An NRL growth fund will have made A$200M ($207M) available for investments in key projects.
- Club membership will reach 400,000.
- NRL social media platforms will engage 5.8 million people.
- Average attendance at NRL games will increase to 20,000.
- 700,000 people will play in competitions.
- 1.8 million will be engaged in NRL community programs.
- 1.65 million will take part in NRL activities.
- 84% of all NRL players will be engaged in education or career training.
- Central revenue will have doubled to more than A$300M.
REACTIONS: In Sydney, Brad Walter wrote Grant has indicated that the appointment of a new CEO "may not be far away" but, five months after former CEO David Gallop's resignation, it is "no longer the most pressing issue in the game." Several issues in the game "remain unsolved:"
- What is happening with the radio rights?
- What about negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement with the players?
- How much will the salary cap be over the next five seasons?
- How much will the annual grant to NRL clubs be?
- Who will be the naming rights sponsor for the NRL premiership?
REMAINING CALM: The AAP's Steve Jancetic reported the search for a new NRL CEO is down to a "very short list," but Grant is refusing to put a time frame on the hire. Grant said that only one candidate so far has turned down the role, but he "denied he was getting frustrated at the drawn-out process, despite admitting it would have been ideal to have had someone in place" for the five-year strategic plan announcement. Grant said, "It's clear to everybody that these things sometimes take longer than you expect them to" (AAP, 10/29).
MONEY SETBACK: In Sydney, Honeysett & Brent Read reported the ARLC "had hoped to announce its '13 payments to clubs" with the five-year and logo announcement, but that move "was put on hold after the commission failed to reach agreement with the NRL Club Council." Now the parties are left with only 48 hours "to resolve the impasse, although it is expected to be settled" by the deadline. Additionally, a new code of conduct will be promoted "emphasising behaviour on and off the field." Grant made it clear that "a line in the sand had been drawn in relation to player behavior, a welcome initiative" following the behavior of several Canterbury players after the grand final. Grant: "We have an existing code of conduct; we need to refresh it. This overarching set of values and the new code of conduct are absolutely lines in the sand" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/30).
TEAM PICTURE: The NRL has revealed a new logo. All rugby teams from all levels of the game will wear a unified logo that brings the sport together with a consistent theme. Development programs are included, while state league and competition emblems have also been redesigned to give the game a new look (NRL). The NEW ZEALAND HERALD noted the logo is green and gold, "which make irk Warriors fans, and includes the Southern Cross constellation" that features on the Australian flag. Critics have pointed out "how closely the logo resembles Cricket Australia's logo," which shares its colors and features the Southern Cross (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 10/29).