D-Day for PNG NRL Bid

Australian Rugby League Commission chair Peter V’Landys is prepared to abandon the prospect of an NRL team from Papua New Guinea if the Australian Federal Government doesn’t improve its offer of support.

The NRL is considering expanding the men’s competition to 18 teams in 2027, and a team from PNG has been championed by the federal government as a way to bring the region closer amidst” competitive tension”.

At Friday’s (May 17th) announcement of Magic Round staying in Brisbane until 2027, V’Landys said he was prepared to walk away from negotiations with the federal government around PNG.
The NRL has put forward a strategy for rugby league in the Pacific, worth $600m over 10 years, which also includes the PNG franchise. But a PNG team is likely to require tens of millions of dollars of Australian taxpayer support each year.

V’Landys confirmed there had been sticking points in negotiations, and he described them as “commercial” in nature.
Australia Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese has celebrated the close relationship Australia shares with its northern neighbour over rugby league. But he has previously indicated deciding on whether to expand to PNG was up to the NRL.

The PNG franchise itself is likely to attract strong fan support and sponsorship interest from large local resource companies. However, an 18th team based in Port Moresby would also significantly increase costs related to logistics, accommodation, travel and security that would be borne by the NRL.

The 17 existing clubs need to sign off on any expansion side, and the NRL provided an update on discussions with the government at a meeting of club chief executives in Brisbane on Thursday.
The NRL is seeking to secure an agreement from the government before formally taking any PNG proposal to clubs.

Other bids from Western Australia and New Zealand have emerged, and provide options with less risk for the NRL.

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