ARL’s Strategic Plan Is A Lot Of Sizzle With No Steak

Australian Rugby League

For well over a decade now the game of Rugby League in Australia has been crying out for a strategic plan. Something that the game can work towards to give fans, players and various investors in the sport something they can look forward to.

Basically the game needed to build towards something, and so today when the ARL released its strategic plan, it was highly anticipated by all and sundry.

It fell short. Way short. It read like a document full of buzzwords and bullshit. Instead of being a true plan for the future of the game what we got was a marketing document!

The ARL made a number of forcasts, with key markets it wanted to hit by 2017 including:

• An NRL Growth Fund will have made $200m available for investment in key projects.
• Club membership will reach 400,000;
• Rugby League social media platforms will engage 5.8m people;
• Average attendance at NRL games will increase to 20,000
• 700,000 people will play in competitions;
• 1.8m will be engaged in NRL community programs;
• 1.65m will take part in Rugby League activities;
• 84% of all NRL players will be engaged in education or career training;
• Central revenue will have doubled to more than $300m;

The problem is, it didn’t explain HOW they intended to do any of this!

There is also the elephant in the room that the NRL still does not have a full time CEO, that we now have no full time Referee’s co-ordinator and eligibility rules are still a chaotic mess!

The NRL has more than doubled its previous broadcasting income, yet, the ARL thinks the best way to expand the game is to rule out any expansion until atleast 2018!

Rugby League can not find $14 million a year out of its $300 million a year income to fund two expansion clubs. Meanwhile over at the AFL they will be spending $400 million over five years on the Western Sydney and Gold Coast teams ALONE! This is madness. This is not a stretegic plan. This is throwing something to the masses in glossy print and hoping they overlook the fact that the ARL does not intend to move the game forward within the next five years in any measurable way.

What is the point having a billion dollars television deal if the game does not intend to raise the salary cap by any great amount or expand at all? Where is all the money going? Sure current clubs need a cash injection, but when you have an extra $600,000,000 or so in the bank, you’ve more than got that covered!

When our games administrators are outlining that they want more “Likes” on Facebook ahead of where they want to build expansion clubs, something is very, very wrong.

I have zero faith in the Australian Rugby League Commission. I have given them plenty of time to show their worth and they have come up short every single time.

Outside of signing off on the broadcasting deal David Gallop spend years to get and changing the finals system, what have they done?

They sacked David Gallop after only months earlier giving him a four years extension. This meant he recieved a giant payout. They then had no one to replace him with. They went out and headhunted an AFL administrator who lead them on and embarrasingly rejected them, and even to this day the NRL still does not have a full time CEO.

They sat back and allowed the refereeing problems to carry on all season, before eventually sacking the referee co-ordinators last week. However, once again, they had no one to replace them with.

We also have had the mess that is eligibility at State Of Origin and Test level. John Grant actually said that the ARL has no control over this, and it was up to the RLIF to make changes. The RLIF basically turned around and said that was not the case, that Australia were the only ones that controlled State Of Origin eligibility. They then said they would look at any changes Australia put forward to fix this mess. They are still waiting…

It is all well and good for John Grant to get around and hand out trophies, but at some point the bloke has to actually do something worthwhile. Looking at this strategic plan, if John Grant leaves the game at the end of 2017 we will have a 16 team NRL competition, no changes to eligibility rules, no plan for the future (A five year plan is a joke by the way…) and the game will now have moved forward at all!

When the Independent Commission was first proposed it was hoped that the game could remove itself from the influence of a major media company and lead itself towards a bigger and brighter future.

News Limited is now gone….and yet we are still waiting for some leadership….

Hey, at least we have some new logos though!

Read The ARL’s Strategic Plan Here:

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