AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Discuss the footy industry, crowds, membership numbers, viewers, sponsorship and the finances of all Australian football codes and clubs
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AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by Beaussie »

Very interesting analysis from Fairfax regarding the motivations and realities for the AFL and the NRL with the AFL’s plans seeming more cautious.

The ongoing broadcast negotiations are particularly noteworthy and seem to be problematic for the NRL and Channel 9.

Let’s all hope as footy fans that we don’t see another spike in COVID-19 cases in the Australian community. We are all no doubt missing our footy and looking forward to things getting back to normal.

AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?
The main sporting codes of Sydney and Melbourne are set to resume play at different times. How have money, geography and culture contributed to the divergence in Australia's two leading winter sports during this pandemic?

By Jake Niall, Sam McClure and Michael Chammas
April 29, 2020

The NRL is adamant it will return to games as soon as possible amid the global coronavirus pandemic, but the AFL is remaining cautious.

Unlike the NRL, which has just announced that it will return to play a 20-game season from May 28, the AFL will not settle on a return date until the week of May 11.

The expectation within AFL circles is that the re-start will be no sooner than the end of June, the AFL having taken a more conservative approach to resumption compared with its rival code. Richmond's dual premiership coach Damien Hardwick is among those anxious for an imminent resumption, this week praising the "aspirational leadership" of the NRL, while also saying he understands the AFL's patience.

So, why the vastly different approaches?

Image
Peter V'landys is taking a different approach with the NRL than Gillon McLachlan is with the AFL.CREDIT:DIGITAL IMAGE

What does money have to do with it?

Well … the most important factor is financial. While the NRL has no meaningful asset base, the AFL has been able to buy time by borrowing against Marvel Stadium (which the league owns), allowing it to underwrite the 18 clubs with a $600 million line of credit.

The NRL's desire to play earlier is largely motivated by its need for broadcast dollars from Nine, the owner of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, and Foxtel – a motive that the AFL shares, but without the same urgency.

For the NRL, the earlier timeline was seen as an utter necessity, and has been pushed relentlessly by their extraordinarily well-connected chairman Peter V'landys, whose position as head of NSW Racing has given him a platform to lobby that state's government and Canberra.

Image
Crucial asset: The AFL-owned Marvel Stadium.CREDIT:DARRIAN TRAINOR

What does geography have to do with it?

The AFL clubs are spread across five states, including Western Australia and South Australia, while the NRL is heavily concentrated in NSW/ACT (11 clubs) and Queensland (three clubs).

The continental spread of the AFL means that it has to deal with different public health rules in those states, and with travel restrictions. This complicates the league's plans to set up quarantine hubs, where the entire team (as many as 32 players) would be locked down in two or three different locations where games would be played. The AFL's hub scenario requires a high level of planning and government consent – including repeated testing of the players.

The NRL is looking to return with a more conventional arrangement, relying on charter flights rather than hubs. It is aided by the concentration of 14 clubs in NSW/ACT and Queensland.

Both codes have been assisted by the country's to-date successful flattening of the COVID-19 curve. Their positions will be clarified on Friday, May 1 when their health protocols are reviewed by the governments' chief health officers.

How are the two codes navigating broadcasters?

The dealings of the AFL and the NRL do not vary as much with Foxtel as with their free-to-air partners, where there is a sharp contrast between the codes.

Whereas Channel Seven and the AFL have quietly negotiated a reduced broadcast fee for this year – likely to be commensurate with the loss of five home-and-away games – the NRL and Channel Nine have had a very public and fierce disagreement.

When the NRL pushed for an early re-start, Nine lambasted the league and its executives for "profoundly wasting money".

Nine expressed reluctance about bringing back the NRL on screens at all, announcing to the ASX that they would save $130 million if they did not pay their broadcast fee, but they have since reached agreement to go ahead with the broadcast, following a meeting between broadcasters and the NRL, with the dollar amount not yet clear. Nine had wanted a significant reduction in the $108-million payment (Foxtel pays $190 million) for the network's five standalone games.

Meanwhile, Seven will confirm the dollar figure of its 2020 payment to the AFL later, when it is clear how many games will be played. Seven, too, has been in discussions with the league about an extension of the broadcast deal.

Image
The way both codes have dealt with free-to-air broadcasters has differed, but their dealings with Foxtel have been similar.CREDIT:PHIL CARRICK

Who's calling the shots?

This is one of the clearest and most striking contrasts between the codes.

While the AFL has engaged the entire industry – at least those who are still working – its decision-making has been driven by chief executive Gillon McLachlan and his executive team who, like the clubs, are operating with a skeleton staff.

The NRL, conversely, is being written and directed by V'landys, the forceful and enterprising chairman, rather than McLachlan's counterpart, chief executive Todd Greenberg, who recently quit his role. V'landys has influential club bosses in his corner, particularly Roosters chairman Nick Polites and South Sydney chairman Nick Pappas.

This reflects the NRL's culture and less corporate governance model in which chairmen, rather than the executives, call the shots.

Image
Peter V'landys has influential NRL club bosses in his corner.CREDIT:AAP

Where will this end up?

The AFL has to condense a further 16 rounds into 14 weeks – including a planned one-week break from quarantine – and McLachlan has told the clubs there is a possibility that if the COVID-19 situation continues to improve, they may move out of hubs and approach normality later in the season.

The NRL, true to form, is even pushing to have socially distant crowds for the finals in October.

The AFL's caution has also derived from a recognition that it cannot afford to resume games and then abruptly halt them again, jeopardising its season and parlous finances. Both codes have already lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to their shutdowns; in the AFL's case, this has made clubs into virtual receiverships administered by the AFL and opened up cracks between haves and have-nots.

The AFL is treading lightly on the question of when and if crowds will return, but has conditioned the clubs to the notion that it's unlikely to be this year.

It's arguable that the positions of the two codes have been governed not simply by their different needs and financial and geographic profiles but by cultural contrasts between Melbourne- and Sydney-centred sports: in this case, fast-paced Sydney is in a hurry to get moving, while Melbourne is hastening slowly.

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/afl-and-nr ... 54o8k.html


"One in every 24 Australians is now a member of an AFL club, a sign that the national reach of Australian football has never been greater," League CEO Gillon McLachlan said.

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Re: AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by AFLcrap1 »

Lol what don't you get Bea
Ch 9 own Fairfax .
Have run a campaign against the NRL since this began .


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Lol $10 NRL tickets.$10 NRL tickets .How pathetic is that ?
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Re: AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by Beaussie »

AFLcrap1 wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 5:01 am
Lol what don't you get Bea
Ch 9 own Fairfax .
Have run a campaign against the NRL since this began .
First it was all News Ltd lies. Now it’s Fairfax lies. What is it with RL fans and always deflecting from reality. 🙄


"One in every 24 Australians is now a member of an AFL club, a sign that the national reach of Australian football has never been greater," League CEO Gillon McLachlan said.

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Re: AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by pussycat »

The journalist and his masters have an axe to grind. The money the AFL has is borrowed. Money they wont want to spend unless they have to. And the
NRL are in a very similar boat.
The reason the AFL aren't going back early is because there far more reliant on crowd revenue.


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Re: AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by leeroy*NRL* »

Yep, I think the AFL are really hoping the back end of season has crowds
They have already stated at putting blockbusters at end
In the hope of crowds.

Will be interesting how deep AFL will go to end of year.

NRL with ORIGIN look to be end around in the Nov 20's



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Re: AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by leeroy*NRL* »

I will also add NRL has State Of Origin
Which requires 1 month.

Getting back asap has aloud it to be scheduled in Nov.
And not disrupt a already disrupred season..



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Re: AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by Fred »

pussycat wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:28 am
The journalist and his masters have an axe to grind. The money the AFL has is borrowed. Money they wont want to spend unless they have to. And the
NRL are in a very similar boat.
The reason the AFL aren't going back early is because there far more reliant on crowd revenue.

I thought the article stated the afl have told clubs crowds this year are unlikely. I think that the afl actually have crowd revenue as a significant income stream is likely the issue not that they are reliant on it per se. It is just something they, like say the Broncos, need to factor in.


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Re: AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by Beaussie »

leeroy*NRL* wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:06 pm
Yep, I think the AFL are really hoping the back end of season has crowds
They have already stated at putting blockbusters at end
In the hope of crowds.

Will be interesting how deep AFL will go to end of year.

NRL with ORIGIN look to be end around in the Nov 20's


The Northern Territory is offering the option to play AFL games with crowds. They do love their footy up there. I like this idea. Could it work?

'The safest place in Australia': NT offers to host games with crowds
Northern Territory has offered to host AFL games with crowds this year

By Oliver Caffrey, AAP

Image
TIO Stadium ahead of the 2019 match between Melbourne and Adelaide in Darwin. Picture: AFL Photos

THE AFL has been thrown a lucrative offer by Northern Territory's chief minister Michael Gunner to host games in front of crowds this year.

Australian sporting codes had all but resigned hope of staging matches with spectators in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
But with just 28 confirmed coronavirus cases in the Northern Territory, the government is already moving to ease restrictions.

This includes plans to resume competitive sport with crowds from June 5.

Gunner said the AFL should consider restarting its season in the Northern Territory - "the safest place in Australia".

"You can play a footy game, you can have a crowd," he told Sky News on Friday.
"It's the dry season up here in Darwin, it's a magic place to be.

"So for me, that's a massive attraction I would've thought to anybody, including the AFL."

The AFL is considering putting clubs into isolation hubs for up to 20 weeks to restart the season, but League boss Gillon McLachlan says that remains the "most extreme scenario".
McLachlan is awaiting key decisions from governments around Australia before making any announcement on the AFL resuming amid the pandemic.

Every state and territory has been considered for a potential hub base during recent weeks, including the Northern Territory, but the assumption had been crowds would still be barred.

https://www.afl.com.au/news/392693/-the ... ith-crowds


"One in every 24 Australians is now a member of an AFL club, a sign that the national reach of Australian football has never been greater," League CEO Gillon McLachlan said.

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Re: AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by leeroy*NRL* »

If i were the AFL and in current conditions
I would take this offer up

For maybe 6-8 weeks of the season
And reassess...

Crowds even if it is 10k at the game.
Atmosphere is everything in sport.



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Re: AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by Beaussie »

leeroy*NRL* wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 10:36 am
If i were the AFL and in current conditions
I would take this offer up

For maybe 6-8 weeks of the season
And reassess...

Crowds even if it is 10k at the game.
Atmosphere is everything in sport.
Yep very good point Leeroy.


"One in every 24 Australians is now a member of an AFL club, a sign that the national reach of Australian football has never been greater," League CEO Gillon McLachlan said.

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Re: AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by NRL&NFLweLaughATafl »

Peter V'landys is probably the best sports administrator in Australia at the moment.

UFCs Dana White has even been crediting him for his negotiation skills.

He made Sydney's Everest the most valuable horse race in the country.
Leaves the Melbourne Cup for dead with prize money these days.

Now he has the NRL starting before the AFL too.

I think the NRL is very lucky to have him involved in the game.


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Re: AFL and NRL: why the differences in return to play?

Post by Fred »

Totally agree. He is exactly what the NRL has needed and doubt a great job.

Melbourne Cup is by far and away the most prestigious Horse race in the country. You can’t buy class nor prestige.


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