The NRL is reportedly moving forward to expand the competition to 17 teams after announcing a $50 million surplus thanks to a huge TV rights deal.
According to the Courier Mail, the NRL has increased its rights deal with pay TV provider Foxtel in an arrangement worth $100 million.
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Peter Badel and Brent Read's report said Australian Rugby League Commission boss Peter V'landys reported the financial windfall in a meeting attending by club chiefs and NRL CEO Andrew Abdo.
While there was no official call made, club bosses left the Zoom conference under no doubt a new side will be added and announced by the end of the month to ensure the winning bid can pursue recruitment targets from November 1.
If the NRL goes ahead with the expansion, it will be the first time a new team has been added to the league since the Gold Coast Titans in 2007.
A second team in Brisbane will be added to the NRL alongside the Broncos, with three clubs being considered by the Expansion Assessment Committee.
The chosen team is likely to join the competition for the 2023 season.
Discussions about expansion with the competition's existing 16 clubs has largely centred around the prospect of additional funding from the ARLC.
Existing clubs are reportedly seeking a $1.5 million in funding after the expansion goes ahead, plus extra from the 17th club's license.
The expansion team will not pay a license fee according to V'landys, who explained clubs would still benefit from the broader growth an extra team allows for.
According to the News Corp report, the Foxtel deal, which is believed to be worth around $100 million over the next five years, will cover the costs of the expanded league.
Three teams are bidding for the 17th NRL license, with Brisbane's Firehawks, Dolphins and Jets all in the running to secure their spot.
It is believed the Dolphins are the likely frontrunners for the license, with the expansion committee set to make their recommendation to the ARLC next week.
NRL clubs open to expansion despite short-term setbacks
Though most of the league's 16 clubs will be slightly disadvantaged by the addition of a 17th team, most seem broadly in favour of expanding the competition.
Melbourne Storm chairman Matt Tripp admitted his side would be worse off in the short-term, but said the overall benefit of a 17th team made expanding the NRL a 'no brainer'.
“Absolutely there is room for a second Brisbane team,” Tripp said.
“If I wasn’t chairman of the Melbourne Storm and I was Matt Tripp the rugby league fan and someone said to me should there be a second club in Brisbane, I would say yes, 100 per cent.
“Of course those comments might be to the short-term detriment of the Storm but taking a long-term view, I don’t think it will be detrimental at all."
Tripp said the short term negatives would be felt in the reduced talent pool, but said an extra game for all the teams, couple with added potential to grow the game, meant expansion was hard to argue against.
He added any growth in the game could potentially lead to the salary cap increasing and the overall quality of play improving.
“The salary cap will increase and more people will want to play the game. There will be a knock-on effect," he said.
“If the foundations are right and the game is being handled right at the top, which it is in my opinion, the NRL is ready for a second Brisbane team.”
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