Aussie taxpayers to fund $600-million new NRL club in Papua New Guinea

30/05/2024
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NRL to PNG approved, deal to cost Aussie taxpayers $600m

“The deal is done” says a top NRL reporter about the league’s agreement with the Australian government for a new club in Papua New Guinea

News Insights

  • “Australian taxpayers are about to spend $600m on a rugby league team in Papua New Guinea.”
  • Leading NRL reporter Ben Fordham said on 2GB Wednesday morning that “The deal is done.”
  • The agreement will see Australian taxpayers paying 60m a year over 10 years.
  • V’landys predicted an 18th NRL team, the Papua New Guinea club, would join the league in 2028.

New reports claim the NRL and Australian government have agreed to a deal to bring a new NRL club to Papua New Guinea at the cost of $600 million to Australian taxpayers over the next 10 years. Leading NRL reporter Ben Fordham said on 2GB Wednesday morning that “The deal is done.” 

“Deal is done” for new NRL club 

In May, ARLC chairman Peter V’landys revealed his ambitious plan to bring in three new clubs to the NRL over the coming years. These plans reportedly included at least one club outside of Australia and New Zealand.  
 
Reports at the time claimed that V’landys had met with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese about funding a project to bring an NRL club to Papua New Guinea.  
 
V’landys specifically asked for a $600m “soft diplomacy” package from the Australian government to help get the deal over the line.  
 
According to 2GB’s Ben Fordham, these plans have become a reality.  
 
“The deal is done,” Fordham said on 2GB this Wednesday. 
 
“Australian taxpayers are about to spend $600m on a rugby league team in Papua New Guinea.” 
 
Fordham further explained that the agreement will see Australian taxpayers paying 60m a year over 10 years.  

What we know about NRL to PNG 

Many details about the NRL’s deal with the Australian government are still unknown. However, everything Peter V’landys said in May seems to be coming true.  
 
In addition to hinting at three new NRL clubs back in May, the ARLC chairman was very explicit about what NRL’s new club in Papua New Guinea would look like.  
 
V’landys predicted an 18th NRL team, the Papua New Guinea club, would join the league in 2028 and that legend Wayne Bennett would be involved.  
 
“Naturally, we would love to have Wayne Bennett involved with an 18th team,” V’landys said.  
 
“He is a genius and if he is available for the next expansion bid, absolutely we want him... Wayne shares our vision on expansion and he wants to be part of that vision absolutely.” 

Further NRL expansion planned  

After expanding to Papua New Guinea, the NRL has plans to add two more clubs before 2034.  
 
“I think (a 20-team league) can be done within a decade or even earlier,” Peter V’landys said in May.  
 
If things go to V’landys’ plans, the Bears could be the NRL’s 19th team, after the PNG side joins the league. Perth and North Sydney have discussed a joint bid to bring the Bears back to the NRL.  
 
“The Perth Bears is the ideal partnership,” V’landys said about the potential new Western Australian club.  
 
Bears last competed in the NRL in 1999, before merging with Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles to form the Northern Eagles.  

The NRL’s 20th club, if there is ever one, is unknown. Newton Jets have been floated, but it’s likely we’ll have to wait years before knowing who’s actually interested. For now, the NRL is only focused on Papua New Guinea. 

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