Game on! Broadcasters’ green light for NRL resumption
The NRL's plan to make a return to the field on May 28 has been given a massive boost after the game's broadcast partners backed the ARLC chairman Peter V'landys' bold plan to resume the competition as quick as possible.
There are also plans to extend the regular season beyond the planned October 4 grand final date.
A high powered meeting between Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany and his Channel 9 counterpart Hugh Marks along with V'landys finished with an encouraging commitment to see rugby league return to the field.
While the respective parties would not comment about the meeting, it is understood all parties left the meeting feeling positive about their position despite some reservations from Nine.
Marks has previously stated to the market that Nine would save $130m if the NRL competition did not resume in 2020.
The State of Origin series is expected follow the grand final, confirming a Daily Telegraph report yesterday.
The matches will be a stand-alone, three-week series with the hope that crowds could potentially be allowed back into stadiums by then which would also provide a massive financial boost for the NRL.
That could mean rugby league is played as late as November to ensure the integrity of the competition is maintained.
The regular season could also feature as many as 18 more games - with everyone to play each other once plus a handful of blockbuster rivalry games to end the season. If that were to happen then the NRL premiership would run deep into October.
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Nine would have to prepared to juggle their World Cup Twenty20 broadcast commitments with rugby league if the cricket tournament ahead as planned which runs from October 18 to November 19.
They would naturally not want a grand final or a State of Origin match pitted against an Australian pool game.
Australia begin their World Cup campaign against Pakistan on October 24 in the first of four pool matches before the knockout stage.
One of the great unknowns though is just how much the respective broadcast parties are willing to tip into the game's coffer for this year.
It is understood more meetings between the television networks and the NRL will happen soon where the main focus will be based around dollars.
Specifically how much each broadcaster is willing to pay to show matches this year.
Foxtel and Nine also want to open negotiations to extend their current broadcast deals which expires in 2022.
That comes after Seven and Network 10 this week distanced themselves from snatching matches from Nine this year.
However, 10 are interested in making a long-term play to be the game's free-to-air partner.
V'landys wrote to all club chairs on Thursday signalling the game's intentions to push ahead with the competition resuming on May 28.
A planned Project Apollo meeting due yesterday was postponed until Wednesday which also meant a host of other meetings include a separate coaches and chief executives meetings put off until next week.
Originally published as Game on! Broadcasters' green light for NRL resumption