Beautiful set of numbers: NRL never had it so good, says man who saved ruggaba-league

The NRL has gone from near-insolvency to its best-ever financial position in the space of four years, Peter V’landy’s says, announcing a surplus of $58.2 million for 2023

Feb 21, 2024, updated Feb 21, 2024
NRL chairman Peter V'landys says the confirmation of the Dolphins as the league's 17th team was a landmark decision. Photo: Array

NRL chairman Peter V'landys says the confirmation of the Dolphins as the league's 17th team was a landmark decision. Photo: Array

Fresh off being re-elected as Australian Rugby League (ARL) Commission chairman for another three years, V’landys on Wednesday channelled former prime minister Paul Keating to describe the NRL’s books as having “a brilliant set of numbers”.

Figures from the NRL’s annual report show a $107.3 million rise in profits to $701.1 million in revenue for the 2023 season.

Surplus is marginally down – from $62.9 million in 2022 to $58.2 million for the following year – but the figure is the second best recorded since the creation of the ARL Commission in 2012.

That has taken the league’s net assets to beyond $260 million, with the continued acquisition of hotels and investment in overseas expansion viewed as future money makers.

“(The figures) have enabled us to now be in the best financial position the game has ever been in, with net assets of $260 million,” V’landys said on Wednesday.

“And that’s very important, because during COVID we were three-to-four months from being insolvent.

“That means that we wouldn’t be able to pay our bills, if we hadn’t started on May 28 (2020), and the game would not be in the position it’s in.

“At the very minimum, we would be a fraction of what we are now.”

The NRL’s listed assets included the Gambaro Hotel in Brisbane, acquired in 2022.

More recent purchases in Woolooware south of Sydney, and on the Sunshine Coast, are not included in the 2023 numbers as they were not completed by October 31 last year.

The surplus follows a 33 per cent increase in club funding last year to $98.2 million above the salary cap, as well as increased player payments.

“When I first got on the commission, we were looking at two clubs actually going broke,” V’landys said.

“We believe that the funding they were getting was inequitable.

“That meant that a lot of the clubs were struggling financially, especially some of the smaller clubs … who were battling to stay alive.

“I’m happy to say now that every club is in the best financial position they’ve been. And that’s because we have given them distributions on top of $98.2 million.”

The annual report showed a 14 per cent increase in linear TV ratings to a cumulative season figure of 93.2 million for the men and 7.2 million for the women, keeping the NRL ahead of the AFL across both competitions.

Crowds rose by 25 per cent in 2023 to an average of 20,300, while registered players in club tackle and tag football rose by six per cent to 192,600.

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