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Thread: 'We are all broke': NSW chair calls for RA overhaul

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    'We are all broke': NSW chair calls for RA overhaul

    By Georgina Robinson
    December 9, 2019 — 8.26pm


    NSW Waratahs chairman Roger Davis has warned that the Australian Super Rugby sides will go broke unless Raelene Castle delivers an uplift on the current broadcast deal and called for a radical overhaul of the competition as "a matter of the utmost urgency".

    As Castle emerged unscathed from the final Rugby Australia board meeting of the year, her position absent from the day's talking points, Davis said he feared for the solvency of Australia's major provinces under the new competition format due to start in 2021.

    He threw his qualified support behind a push to install former Australian rugby boss John O'Neill as chairman when Cameron Clyne steps down in March, and said the game was desperate for leadership.

    "We are all broke unless the [rights] deal goes up," he said. "We are being asked to survive on a minimum of six home games a year and a maximum of seven, which is basically taking 20 per cent of our revenue out of the business. You can't take 20 per cent of a business's revenue away and expect it to survive."

    Super Rugby will revert to a round robin format when the Sunwolves exit the competition at the end of next season, meaning each Australian team will have its home games cut from eight to six or seven on an alternating basis.

    It is this format, plus a rejigged Rugby Championship and July Test calendar, that the SANZAAR nations have taken to market for a broadcast rights deal at home and overseas.

    Australia are the last of the three founding partners to finalise their domestic agreement, with Castle and highly regarded rights consultant Shane Mattiske intent on testing the market for a competitor to long-term partner Fox Sports.

    "This deal is absolutely critical," Davis said.

    We should be going into the new year talking about a great season of rugby ahead but instead we're tearing ourselves apart.

    Castle and the RA board and administration hope the Christmas period acts as a circuit breaker on a disastrous year for the game on and off the field.

    Having appointed a Wallabies coach, put the divisive Israel Folau issue to bed and survived the final board meeting, Castle will start the new year with one priority: to open a formal bidding process for broadcast rights and secure a five-year deal worth, at the very least, the same as the current $57 million a year contract.

    She will be assisted by Mattiske who, as NRL head of strategy, played a key role in the code's record-breaking $1.2 billion broadcast deal in 2012.

    But the sharks are circling, and the pair's determination to go to market for a competitive offer to Fox Sports' opening play appears to have enraged the broadcaster's top brass.

    RA sees it as a matter of due diligence to test market interest in rugby, not only with its current partner and free-to-air networks but also with OTT ("over-the-top") providers such as Optus, Amazon and Netflix.

    A barrage of reports have cast the move as a fatal mis-step, and several broadcasting and rugby sources have suggested Foxtel boss Patrick Delany is close to refusing to deal with Castle.

    The stand-off appears to have spooked RA directors and stakeholders, with Davis calling for a leadership overhaul.

    "We should be going into the new year talking about a great season of rugby ahead but instead we're tearing ourselves apart on governance and leadership," he said, adding any move to install O'Neill as chairman would have to go through the proper nomination and appointment process.

    "I think everyone would like to see the issues addressed and a new board in place. If John was asked to stand up as chair, I think he would do a good job - it will certainly be an interesting ride."

    The first opportunity will come at the annual general meeting on March 30, when Clyne's position and three others will be up for election. Deputy chair Brett Robinson and Queensland appointment Paul McLean will step down, and Ann Sherry has already vacated her seat.

    Clyne addressed the speculation after Monday's meeting. "2020 is an important year with the broadcast rights negotiations underway and we remain in dialogue with our long-term partner Fox Sports as we aim to deliver the strongest levels of coverage for all of our competitions over the next five-year cycle," he said.

    The jockeying has begun, although O'Neill and current director John Wilson are the only names linked to the chairman's role as yet.

    Consulting firm Korn Ferry was enlisted to draw up a list to take to the nominations committee, which is made up of John Sharp, Daryl McDonough and Mark L'Huillier.

    Figures being mentioned in rugby circles include NSW Waratahs directors Tony Crawford and Kerry Chikarovski, former NSW premier Mike Baird, World Cup-winning Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones, former Rugby Union Players' Association boss Greg Harris and lawyer and Sydney Olympics bid guru Rod McGeoch.

    Castle's future will be considered a live issue under a new chairman, with several directors considered "sceptics", pending the outcome of broadcast rights negotiations.

    The organisation believes it has an attractive product to take to market, including a Test schedule over the next five years superior to any other SANZAAR nation. The Wallabies will host Ireland, England and Wales at home over the course of the next deal. In 2021, when the British and Irish Lions tour South Africa, a senior RA source told the Herald Australia would host France, while New Zealand would host Italy.

    It also believes a lift in subscriptions on Kayo, Foxtel's sports streaming service, during the Rugby World Cup, gives the lie to the narrative that rugby is no longer valuable to Fox.

    But the pay broadcaster, which has held exclusive rights to Super Rugby since it used the competition to launch the business in the mid-90s, has a track record in heavy-handed negotiations.

    It threatened to walk away from cricket last year, only to sign it on a mammoth $1.2 billion contract in partnership with free-to-air Channel Seven. The deal, in which only the men's ODIs and T20 internationals are exclusive on Fox Sports, has come to be regarded as a gamble that is weighing down the broadcaster's finances.

    In 2015, former NRL boss Dave Smith resigned after angering Foxtel's parent company, News Corporation, when he negotiated a $925 million free-to-air TV deal with Channel Nine in 2015, inking the deal separately to the Fox Sports component and cutting the pay broadcaster out of Saturday and Monday night NRL programming.

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-u...09-p53i9l.html

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    Roger Davis on 9/12/2019:
    "We are all broke unless the [rights] deal goes up," he said. "We are being asked to survive on a minimum of six home games a year and a maximum of seven, which is basically taking 20 per cent of our revenue out of the business. You can't take 20 per cent of a business's revenue away and expect it to survive."

    But 2 years ago:
    New South Wales Rugby Union and Waratahs chairman Roger Davis believes chopping a Super Rugby team is the right decision because it will give NSW the slice of revenue pie they deserve to put into grassroots.
    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-u...12-gvjlnd.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSJ View Post
    Roger Davis on 9/12/2019:
    "We are all broke unless the [rights] deal goes up," he said. "We are being asked to survive on a minimum of six home games a year and a maximum of seven, which is basically taking 20 per cent of our revenue out of the business. You can't take 20 per cent of a business's revenue away and expect it to survive."

    But 2 years ago:
    New South Wales Rugby Union and Waratahs chairman Roger Davis believes chopping a Super Rugby team is the right decision because it will give NSW the slice of revenue pie they deserve to put into grassroots.
    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-u...12-gvjlnd.html
    That because the morons at RA and NSWRU thought that by cutting teams the money paid by broadcasters would be the same.

    Less games to sell means less TV revenue and now it's going to bite all of them in the arse.

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    They managed to go from 18 to 15 in 2018 and still retain the same money though. Fox obviously isn’t falling for the same trick twice.

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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    The only reason that was considered a "new" TV deal was to give the Force the arse. In reality it was the same TV deal, only now at the end of that deal is it going to bite them.

    Throw in some diabolical ratings for good measure and it doesn't paint a pretty picture for RA/SANZAAR.

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    Last edited by jargan83; 10-12-19 at 14:48.

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    9 out of 10 Facebook posters think RA have the correct broadcast rights strategy in hand.


    Name:  Footshot.jpg
Views: 261
Size:  10.7 KB

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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    9 out of 10 Facebook posters think RA have the correct broadcast rights strategy in hand.


    Name:  Footshot.jpg
Views: 261
Size:  10.7 KB
    I love that comment and picture Shasta. Crisp and short summary.

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSJ View Post
    I love that comment and picture Shasta. Crisp and short summary.
    Fair enough but they make it so easy. RA the joke that keeps giving.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    9 out of 10 Facebook posters think RA have the correct broadcast rights strategy in hand.
    Name:  Footshot.jpg
Views: 261
Size:  10.7 KB
    8 out of 10 Facebook posts on the topic written by twas

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    C'mon the

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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    Fair enough but they make it so easy. RA the joke that keeps giving.
    He even looks like Roger Davis

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