PNGNRL bid gets on Broncos’ shorts

Main Stories, National

The National- Thursday, February 10, 2011

 PAPUA New Guinea, through its PNGNRL Bid team, will fork out more than K700,000  as a minor sponsor for Brisbane Broncos in the upcoming NRL season.

The move had expanded PNG’s horizons and, seemingly, its chances of success by opting to go into partnership with the glamour NRL club in a deal that would see the government-backed pro-ject effectively buy advertising space on the Broncos uniform (shorts).

Newly-elected Broncos chief executive Paul White, along with the club’s development manager Marty Roven and general manager of commercial operations Terry Reader, flew into Port Moresby yesterday to finalise a shorts sponsorship deal with the PNGNRL bid team worth about A$250,000 (K700,000) a season. 

The visitors were holding talks with PNGNRL Bid board members Powes Parkop (NCD governor) and Philemon Embel (Sports Minister) over the deal.

The package, when confirmed, would see the country’s NRL bid aspirations use the famous Broncos club as a springboard to better name recognition in Australia’s NRL market.

“We are using Broncos as a medium to promote the bid and, at the same time, learn from them how to promote PNG-NRL franchise in preparation for the NRL expansion exercise,” Parkop said.

“The PNGNRL Bid team needs necessary skills on how to run a franchise, and could not go past Brisbane.”

But the new development had come at a cost with the preemptive resignations of the bid’s strategic adviser Paul Broughton and general manager Beverly Broughton. 

The husband-and-wife team called it quits after what they described was a “conflict of interest” situation where Paul’s concurrent position as an executive of the Gold Coast Titans franchise had placed him in direct opposition to the proposal.

Broughton claimed the deal was put together at his back and he did not favour a marketing drive for NRL inclusion over funding for player, coaching and infrastructure development.

“Once I found out that the negotiations were going on, I immediately resigned because it was a conflict of interest because of my role with the Titans,” Broughton said.

 “(The Broncos) have made a commercial decision and they are going to be paid money for doing it. 

“But, I could never do it against my own club. 

“(The PNG bid team) knew I did not favour that type of progress to enable them to secure a licence.”

Sources within the bid team, however, have countered Broughton’s assertions, saying he had been aware of the impending deal months in advance and was also a part of the planning process which agreed that branding would play an essential role in marketing the country’s bid.

Funding for the shorts’ deal would come from the K20 million allocated by the national government to the PNGNRL Bid team. It was meant for the team to work with partners to secure a licence for the PNG team in the world toughest rugby league competition in Australia. 

The National has been informed that the deal had been signed but was yet to reach the NRL commercial and marketing division for registration. NRL director of commercial and marketing Paul Kind could not be reached for comments.

However, a sports administrator in the country has described the move by the bid team as hypocritical and shallow.

He said the bid had yet to show one tangible result for all the monies poured into the project (see back page).

He said the Broncos joining forces with the PNG bid team could harm the chances of the consortium rallying for a second club in the city.

Former Broncos backer Craig Davison was behind a bid for a second Brisbane team to enter the NRL if the incoming independent commission to run rugby league decided to expand the competition. 

The PNGNRL Bid logo would make its first appearance on the Broncos’ shorts when they play their opening trial of the pre-season against Gold Coast at Wynnum on Saturday night.

The Broncos were yesterday adamant the commercial association had no connection to the bid for a rival Brisbane team headed by Davison.

“This deal has been in the pipeline for nine months but we are on our way there as we still have to finalise some details,” White said in a statement. 

“It will be an exciting partnership for both parties.

“For the Broncos, it will be a formal link into the one country in the world where rugby league is the national sport. And, it will also provide a link for Papua New Guineans and their favourite team, the Brisbane Broncos.”

The group behind a potential second Brisbane club would hold its official launch at Suncorp Stadium on Feb 21, unveiling ambassadors and sponsors.