NRL expected to announce $30m profit for 2019 despite horror off-season

The NRL is expected to announce a bumper profit of about $30 million for last season in an encouraging sign of the game's resilience in bouncing back from the off-field incidents of the code's "summer from hell".

The governing body is poised to release its 2019 financial results and the Herald has been told profit  is $5 million higher than predicted. While a $30 million profit would be significantly less than the $42 million recorded the previous year, it is considered a strong result given the spate of off-field incidents that plagued the previous pre-season.

Balancing the books: NRL CEO Todd Greenberg.Credit:Getty

The result is a welcome boost as head office prepares to negotiate its next broadcast deal. The current $1.8 billion arrangement doesn't expire until 2022 but officials are already preparing for when they are required to come to the negotiating table to thrash out new contracts. The NRL is confident a host of new platforms such as Google, Netflix and Facebook – often dubbed as "disruptors" to traditional media – may also emerge as rights bidders in time for the next cycle.

The NRL is also acutely aware that it doesn't currently own any assets, a situation it is hoping to remedy as it attempts to cut costs and increase revenue.

While the "no fault" rule has now been in effect for about 12 months, it is still a point of conjecture for some stakeholders. The Rugby League Players' Association is fighting it on the grounds it contravenes the collective bargaining agreement it struck with the NRL, with the matter set to go to arbitration after mediation talks failed.

The NRL stated that more than $10 million of sponsorship revenue was lost due to player misbehaviour during the 2019 pre-season, while Greenberg claimed that "hundreds of millions of dollars" of broadcast revenue could be lost if the game didn't act to address behaviour issues.

There is a changing of the guard at head office after Racing NSW boss Peter V'Landys took over from Peter Beattie as chair of the Australian Rugby League Commission.

V'Landys has made it clear his objective is to increase broadcast revenue and is said to be in favour of the introduction of a 17th Queensland franchise to add value.

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