NRL reports big operating surplus

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has announced an operating surplus of $49.9 million for its 2014 financial year.

In the last two years it has generated a combined $100 million for reinvestment back into the game and it is confident of generating more growth in the future.

In other 2014 results delivered at Friday’s Annual General Meeting, the ARLC also announced some other key performance indicators.

1. Rugby League owned the top three highest rating programmes of any kind on Australian television;

2. More than a quarter of a million Rugby League fans made a membership commitment to support their clubs;

3. The game’s digital and social media profile grew significantly with 28 million views across digital platforms, and more Australians now follow the NRL on Facebook than any other sport;

4. Participation growth was strong with 1.3 million participants, including increases in weekend players, recreational players, minis, females and masters;

5. New investment commitments have been secured for stadia upgrades in New South Wales and Queensland to improve game day experience;

ARLC Chairman John Grant claims that the strong results are a result of a collective effort across Rugby League.

“We reported today on some big achievements and our financial performance has once again been very strong.  We’re building a balance sheet to secure the game’s future whilst at the same time preserving profitability, and two years into our new rights deal we are distributing the funds in support of the game’s growth agenda and strategic priorities,” he said, while justifying the expansion of the game’s governing body.

“We are transforming our operations so that we have the right foundations in place on which to keep building. This is why we are investing to develop the skills, capability and capacity of the NRL to maintain that momentum.

“The results that have been delivered over the past two years have been driven by the hardworking team at the NRL led by CEO Dave Smith and we’re in a strong position to meet our challenges and secure the opportunities of the future.”

NRL CEO Dave Smith said that Rugby League’s strong off-field performance meant that the NRL could continue to ensure Rugby League was a leading entertainment brand for fans and a platform for community connection at the local level.

“In two years we have built a combined operating surplus of close to $100m that will be reinvested back into the game. We’re proud that this surplus has been achieved while the NRL has continued to increased financial support for all aspects of the game,” said Smith.

“We have also put aside $50 million into a long term Sustainability Fund that will ensure the game’s underlying position is secured.

“We have increased distributions to the clubs, the State Leagues and into the development of the game to more than $200 million.

“We also set up a model in New South Wales in partnership with the Government to create a new Footy Facilities Fund that is driving investment of more than $4 million into grassroots facilities – that’s something we want in other states too.”

Smith said a stronger financial base allowed the game to deliver better major events for fans, focus more on community contribution and support players to be the best they could be on and off the field.

“Off the field we introduced new concepts such as the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines, which were a tremendous success, and we’re driving a strong campaign to push membership, which supports our clubs,” Mr Smith said.

“We’re also widening our base at the local level and also invested more in career education and training for players, and focused on strengthening governance across the game. These are activities that improve our brand and reputation.”

But he claims there is still a lot of work ahead to achieve the game’s longer term targets.

“Our focus is our clubs and securing their sustainability; investment into rectangular stadia which will drive a better fan experience; staying committed to enhancing our brand; building value into our future rights; and a dedicated focus on key strategic priorities in football such as pathways and competition structures from the grassroots up to the elite level.

“These are the elements that will build even greater value in our game.”