We have the lowest revenue in the NRL

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THE NRL likes to boast of seven premiers in eight years but closer analysis of the competition results since 1998 - when the salary cap began to be enforced rigorously - belies the spread and confirms money still rules rugby league.

Brisbane - 20.3 Million
Roosters - 15.19 million
Melbourne - 13.2 million
Newcastle - 12.76 million
Paramatta - 11.5 million
Dragons - 15.03 million
Bulldogs - 12.55 million
sharks - 9.25 million
Canberra - 11.09 million
Penrith - 9.3 million
Warriors - 9.8 million
wests tigers - 9.7 million
Cowboys - 10.68 million
Souths - 9.7 million

Squeezing 25 players under the cap of $3.366million might force chief executives to count on fingers and toes, but that's not all there is to the equation. Money may not necessarily be splashed on players' contracts but it can add to the lustre of a club and help it gain and maintain a talented playing roster.

Money for training complexes, coaches, junior development squads and nutritionists is outside cap auditor Ian Schubert's range.

Most clubs boast revenue of at least three times the salary cap; Brisbane pull in almost six times the cap in a year.

A Herald analysis, awarding points for minor premiership standings since 1998, has the Broncos and Roosters as the two standout clubs of the modern era, with ratings of 101 and 100 respectively. The Broncos have won two grand finals - the only double winners since the NRL began - while the Roosters have made four grand finals in eight years.

Surprise, surprise, Brisbane are unchallenged as the game's wealthiest club, with Lachlan Murdoch their No.1 ticketholder, News Ltd the majority shareholder and their finances almost guaranteed by being a one-city team.

The Roosters, backed by multimillionaire businessman and club chairman, Nick Politis, are hard on the Broncos' heels.

The Storm may have made few waves in Melbourne but their on-field performance since 1998 has been remarkably consistent, with the club regularly finishing the season in a handy position and claiming a title in 1999. They rank slightly ahead of Newcastle, who have had the game's best player, Andrew Johns, albeit with some lengthy injury-forced lay-offs. The two clubs also have similar revenue streams, which match their football rankings.

Parramatta and St George Illawarra, strong brands backed by wealthy leagues clubs, are in fifth and sixth place - a reflection both of their healthy finances and a failure to deliver results to match the outstanding playing rosters they've maintained in this period.

The Bulldogs, with one title and a grand final appearance, would rank higher but for the salary cap debacle that sent them from first to last in 2002.

Then come the Sharks and the Raiders, who have performed consistently in home-and-away competition yet failed at the business end. Along with the Sea Eagles and the Rabbitohs, the Sharks and the Raiders are the only clubs not to appear in a grand final in the NRL era.

Souths, something of a special case, with two years out of the competition, run a predictable last. But it's the two outfits above them that should give the

Rabbitohs most hope - and the NRL cause to believe in the power of the salary cap to level the field. The records of Wests Tigers (results for the separate clubs, Western Suburbs and Balmain have been averaged for 1998 and 1999) and the Cowboys are, mostly, undistinguished since the NRL began. But last season proved the doubters wrong, with the sides defying the long-term trend and making their first grand final.

Souths chief executive Shane Richardson, a veteran of the Sharks, Panthers and British club Hull, said money was "absolutely important" in angling for success. "Souths have always had $3.9 million to spend on players. It's not that, it's the money we can spend off the field - outside the salary cap - that makes you competitive. And that's what we'll be able to do now," he argued, pointing to the privatisation of the football club by Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court.

"What we've got to do is rebuild our image as a club so that people are going to be attracted to us and it starts with training, it starts with rehabilitation [facilities] and it starts with opportunities we can create for them."

Money talks but - as the failed Souths pitches for Braith Anasta, Matt Orford and Steve Bell proved - not every player listens to what it says.

"For us to attract a marquee player we've probably got to pay overs for them; that's not a question at the moment," Richardson said. "What we don't want to do is pay overs for the young players we've got. It's a short-term headache for a long-term gain."

Player manager Wayne Beavis said the simple rule was that good players gravitated to stronger clubs. While Beavis said "not too many players want to drop money", the decision on where to play often depended on factors outside the salary cap. "The clubs are not salary-capped in terms of the staff they can have, the front office, the amenities," he said.

"Predominantly, what comes first is the coaching and the football side - where they can go and where they think they're a chance of winning a comp, which is what every player wants."

Even with the same amount of money to spend on their top 25 players, clubs can struggle to overcome failure. But, citing the Cowboys and Tigers as examples, Beavis said success could come with the right sort of management.

First, you've got to take the medicine. "If you're crook and you don't go to the doctors, you don't get better," he said. Then, if you "build, nurture, and hose the garden", a grand final is not out of the question.


Winging it
I got a shock reading that this morning. Kudos to Roy Masters for putting the information in one place.

Shane Richardson of Souths must need a new calculator as the investment is very small from Russel & Peter. Maybe they can set up some decent training facilities and their connections to the big end of town will be where the future strength will lie.

The whole SuperLeague seems so long ago but we are still paying for it even today. The first to show allegiance against one of the biggest patently poxy visions and the attached lies and the financial cost is still there. Then the merger just about put the nail in the coffin.

That said it IS a long time ago and the club getting their arse in gear with sponsorship is what it is all about! I can't believe a club like Manly can't build something substantial from the large supporter base we have.

Canteen Worker

First Grader
We aren't really the Silvertails are we??? Interesting insight and many a truism quoted.

Our club has to raise its revenue and become more competitive in the Sydney market. Success on field and promotion etc is vital to our long term survival.


Journey Man
Those figures are straight out of Business Review Weekly.

We must be going okay for revenue if it takes the club five days (and counting) to get back to a supporters group that are wanting to shell out thousands on a corporate box......


We will struggle to retain our lower grade players if we don't have the money to match what the roosters, bulldogs etc can offer them.

I noticed that Zeb Tahwa is now playing for the roosters. Wasn't he one of our local juniors? I thought that he was highly regarded by the club and that they would have retained him?

Spuds Bodyguard

Reserve Grader
There are quite a few things that the report doesn't take into consideration that affect the viability of clubs, ie assets, liabilities, loans etc

Without this information it is impossible to compare the clubs.

Stuey Davis’s Socks

Premium Member
Tipping Member
Speaking with my accountant's hat on, revenue obviously does not = profit. This report ignores costs. However, a club at the lower end of the revenue spectrum can allocate the funds they do have to sensible priorities and still end up being successful. E.g. West Tigers contracting a talented coach in Tim Sheens and amassing a willing and skillful bunch of players. Their revenue should rise as a result of their success on the paddock.

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