Off the Wall

The challenges, complexities, and frankly the downside, of private ownership of NRL clubs was not on the ARLC agenda, it now must surely be.

The overnight news that the Gold Coast Titans are clearly facing a financial crisis is sad, and serious for the club, and the game.

But it is hardly a unique occurrence in the NRL!!

One of the issues that has caused massive turmoil at the Sea Eagles has been the increasingly poisonous relationship between the owners.

You have to worry about ownership issues at the Knights, given the owner's track record elsewhere...including at the NSL team he also owns.

The Warriors seem to survive on a wing and a prayer with all kind of uncertainties surrounding its ownership.

The most stable ownership arrangements are at the Broncos and the Storm, where News Limited is the majority owner and the sole owner respectively.

But if the new head of News in Australia, Kym Williams, decides to see the Storm it will be interesting to see if he gets any serious offers.

And when you look at the NRL clubs that are effectively owned by their licensed clubs just about all of them are under some financial pressure - some are under real stress.

The future structure of the whole game needs the most thorough consideration - and not just driven by "expansion".

The ARLC needs to look in detail at the viability of the current sixteen NRL clubs AND the feeder clubs that serve them.

It also needs to look at the whole issue of private ownership.

Is it really working? Should private ownership conditions be tightened?

And not until that is all done should there even be initial consideration of expansion.

The television rights agreement is important to the game's financial viability, and that of the 16 current clubs.

But it is not the only factor.

What is the point of having a good television agreement when the majority of clubs are struggling to be viable...and two or three are unviable?

Even the best possible tv rights outcome won't solve the financial challenges facing a worrying number of clubs - club/member owned and private owned.