NRL set up to handle financial crisis - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL set up to handle financial crisis

By Todd Balym 04/03/2009 06:34:03 PM Comments (0)

NRL chief executive David Gallop says the league has safeguards to prevent clubs falling victim to the credit crunch as Cronulla boss Tony Zappia admits it is a "make or break" year for the Sharks.

The Sharks are one of several NRL clubs struggling in the current financial crisis and Zappia said it was imperative that crowd numbers rise dramatically this year with the club eyeing an average home attendance of more than 15,000.

Membership at the Sharks is about 3,300 - amongst the lowest in the league.

"I think it's a make or break year in a sense that we need people to really get behind the Cronulla Sharks," said Zappia.

"A lot of people talk about supporting the Sharks, in particular in the Shire, but I don't think that actually translates to numbers coming through the gate.

"If they really want to support us ... (they) need to sign up as members and buy seats and come to all the games, not just one or two.

"It is no secret that our club is one of those clubs that is financially struggling as are some other clubs, we are probably a little bit worse off than some of the other clubs.

"We're meeting our commitments and putting strategies in place to ensure we can continue going forward ... we are hopeful we can get through these difficult times.

"Contrary to what people are saying there are no plans in place to relocate to Adelaide."

Zappia said Cronulla had already reached last year's membership level on the back of the NRL's advertising campaign featuring Matthew Johns, but needed that number to "double" in the coming years.

Gallop said membership and attendance were two key areas for the game in 2009 and said the NRL was well set up to withstand the financial climate considering it had been "belt-tightening" since the poker machines taxes were introduced a few years ago.

"There will definitely be some challenges, the economic down turn is going to present challenges across the board," said Gallop at the NRL CEO's conference in Sydney.

"The fact is our clubs have been belt-tightening for some years now.

"In some respects we are set up to be ready for that.

"Our whole system is set up to keep our clubs' heads above water.

"But we still encourage people that rugby league is an affordable entertainment option ... it is a nice escape in tough times."

Gallop on Wednesday unveiled the NRL's new advertising campaign based around the "park to premiership" theme at a season launch at The Domain in Sydney.

Set to the song "Feels like Woah" by Australian Idol Wes Carr, the advertisement is aimed at the rugby league's grassroots fan base to inspire them to attend matches and play the game.

Meanwhile, Aussie Home Loans on Wednesday confirmed they would take over Wizard Home Loans' sponsorship of the NSW Origin team for the next two years.

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