NATIONAL Rugby League (NRL) chief executive officer David Gallop advised the PNG NRL Bid team to “keep doing what you are doing” during a meeting in Sydney last week with members of the Bid team.
In frank discussions with the Bid team led by Sports Minister Philemon Embel and including Paul and Beverly Broughton, Gallop commended the Bid team for its progress thus far but said there was still a long way to go.
Gallop stressed that in order for the PNG NRL Bid to have a chance, the main areas to look at were having a world class stadium, having a strong junior development programme in place and having the “right” individuals in place to run rugby league in PNG.
Currently, the PNG NRL Bid is yet to announce in detail the commencement of a schoolboy’s rugby league competition but have already been given the go-ahead by Education Minister James Marape to start a competition this year.
The Government has made a commitment to build a national stadium to cater for rugby league matches but also with an eye to the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.
Work has yet to commence on the proposed new stadium as it is a vital Bid component. It is understood all stakeholders including the PNG Sports Federation and other Sports Foundation and other sporting bodies will have input in the planning process.
The Bid’s strategic advisor Paul Broughton reaffirmed that it was not a matter of if a PNG team would play in the NRL but when. He called for patience and to diligently and promptly adhere to the NRL’s requirements for the bid to be given the best possible chance of success.
The other major news to come out of the meeting was the revelation that the NRL would be negotiating much sooner than anticipated for television rights with broadcaster Channel Nine. In an interview with Minister Embel yesterday he said the 2013 date for contract negotiations had been moved forward to next year which would in effect make it harder for PNG to be prepared in time. Although unconfirmed at this stage the news would mean that any expansion plans could be looked at much earlier giving better prepared bids a stronger chance to succeed if the Nine network and the NRL determined that expansion was profitable.
Embel reiterated that support for PNG’s NRL bid would need to come from all stakeholders particularly the private sector.
He said realistically PNGNRL Bid team could bring a PNG team into the NRL at the earliest in 2015 or 2016. But this was not a definite as Gallop’s recommendations to have a well developed support structure in place was paramount. He also said a lot would depend on the negotiations for TV rights. “It is not just about putting together a rugby league team. It involves pulling together of resources to build the infrastructure and effective development programmes and proper accreditation of administrators etc to drive the bid.”