Note to NRL: Congratulations on selling us out

 

Well done NRL. You've just proved everything Queenslanders have always thought about you.

That you're not a national competition at all, just a shopfront for the interests of NSW-based clubs and their supporters.

That you couldn't give a damn about the wellbeing of your number one support base, and never have. And that when it comes to a choice between dollars and sense you'll grab the cash every time.

By meekly handing over the code's showpiece game to the hopelessly outdated and unsuitable Sydney Cricket Ground for 2021 you have shafted the Queensland faithful in the greatest act of rugby league bastardry since the last time Artie Beetson ran onto Lang Park wearing a blue jumper.

If Commission Chairman Peter Beattie was popping champagne at the news, he shouldn’t have been. Picture: Chris Pavlich/AAP
If Commission Chairman Peter Beattie was popping champagne at the news, he shouldn’t have been. Picture: Chris Pavlich/AAP

If ever the NRL had an opportunity to do the right thing, this was it. It was all set up for them, gift wrapped and tied with a shiny maroon ribbon. All they had to do was put common sense and fairness ahead of political expediency and give Queenslanders their due.

So what happened? They sold Queensland out.

Peter Beattie and his fellow commissioners are probably popping the champagne corks at NRL HQ right now, patting themselves on the back and saying what a great deal they've done for the game.

Let's hope it doesn't come back to bite them. A house divided cannot stand, the saying goes - and the fissure between NSW and Queensland rugby league fans just became a canyon.

From the outside looking in it seemed a no-brainer.

With the NSW government's deal to secure 25 years of grand finals in return for a $2 billion redevelopment of the State's football stadiums put on ice for a year due to a planning snafu, a one-off opportunity presented itself.

The NRL, released from its commitment, needed a venue for the 2021 decider. The choice was theirs.

On the southern side of the border they had the SCG, an antiquated cricket ground voted by players and officials the worst in the country. On the northern side they had Suncorp Stadium, the best rugby league stadium in the world, offering more seats, unmatched views and better financial return.

And that's not even factoring in the fans.

For over 30 years the Brisbane Broncos have attracted the code's biggest crowds while Queenslanders' initial and continual support of State of Origin has made it the greatest cash cow in Australian sporting history.

For three decades the Brisbane Broncos have attracted Rugby League’s biggest crowds. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
For three decades the Brisbane Broncos have attracted Rugby League’s biggest crowds. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

Without the Broncos and Origin the NRL's last five-year TV deal would be worth a fraction of the $1.8 billion secured from 2018.

Surely all that would have been enough to tip the scales in Brisbane's favour. After all, it's not as if NSW taxpayers were the only ones to put their hands into their pockets to build first-class rugby league facilities.

The Queensland government provided $800 million towards the development of Suncorp, Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast and the new North Queensland Stadium at Townsville.

NSW taxpayers got 25 grand finals for their $2 billion. What did Queenslanders get for their $800 million? Not even one.

The NRL, knowing that holding both the 2020 and 2021 grand finals at the SCG would be a financial disaster asked the NSW Government for a reported $20 million compensation in order to shaft Queensland. It is believed they accepted $12 million.

It might as well have been 30 pieces of silver.