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Super League and NRL salary cap chasm grows further as bosses confirm major increase

NRL bosses Peter V’landys and Andrew Abdo have confirmed the competition’s salary cap will increase more than expected next season, making it three times bigger than that of Super League.

As part of a special investigation into rugby league’s biggest issues down under, V’landys, the Australian Rugby League Commission, and Abdo, the NRL’s CEO, told the Daily Telegraph that the cap will be potentially as high as $11.5 million, with allowances when CBA negotiations with the RLPA are finalised within the month.

They confirmed the NRL cap will be at least $11m in 2023, well above the projected $10.4m, with the NRL’s first $1.5 million player also expected in the near future.

That means the NRL’s salary cap will be well over the £6m mark, some three times bigger than the £2.1m limit for Super League clubs. While the salary cap in the UK competition has stagnated, the cap down under has doubled since 2013 when it was just above £3m.

“Player payments are going up,” NRL CEO Abdo confirmed. “There will be more athletes with professional contracts for both the NRL and NRLW competitions than ever before.

“We are fully focused on our negotiation with the RLPA over the new CBA. We are really hopeful to reach the end of this month with a pretty exciting deal for stakeholders.

“Our current proposal is for a significant increase in salary cap for both male and female athletes. The clubs have never been stronger or more profitable.

“A couple of years ago, the situation was very different for clubs financially. Clubs were making significant losses in aggregate, so it was important to provide a strong financial base for clubs.

“The funds available for distribution have gone up significantly.”

Because of this, each NRL club will receive even more than the $13m they were granted in 2022, allowing them to spend more and boost player salaries.

The average salary for the NRL’s top 30 players is now also approaching three times that of Super League too, meaning more of the UK’s top players could be inticed by big offers as the gap between the two competitions gets bigger.

This continuous widening is due to the huge TV deals and increased popularity of the NRL, with Australia’s premier competition posting a staggering $570m turnover in the last financial year.

That figure equated to profits around the $50m mark, with all 16 NRL clubs running at a profit as the competition continues to thrive.

“The game’s finances have never been better,” V’landys told the Daily Telegraph. “It’s important the game is never put in a position where it can’t sustain itself and risks going bankrupt.

“We will be announcing record figures. Our revenue will be in excess of $600 million and we have never reached those heights before.

“I’m proud that our cost structure is down to 23 per cent compared to the AFL’s 47 per cent, which means we are doing things in a cost-effective way at the NRL and, in turn, distributing more money to players, coaches and the clubs.

“The haters out there are trying to say, ‘You are saving money because you aren’t putting money into participation’, but we are actually investing more money in participation.”

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