The Eels have urged the NRL to increase the reward for clubs that hang onto players they’ve developed.
It comes after sports management consultant Ramy Haider put forward a proposal to the NRL that would encourage clubs to promote from within rather than buying NRL players from elsewhere.
The Sydney Morning Herald revealed on Wednesday that Haider had pitched a “Net Supply Allowance” idea to the NRL and several clubs.
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Under the idea, clubs would get salary cap relief based off a “team purity score” — decided by comparing the total number of club appearances and total number of NRL appearances within a squad.
Essentially, a club that debuts players that have come through the ranks and played for their under 21s and reserve grade feeder side would have a stronger purity score than a club that goes out and buys an established NRL player.
The proposal would see the Roosters benefit greatly given they have debuted 45 players over the last decade and bought just 38 established NRL players, giving them a surplus of seven.
Under Haidar’s plan, clubs would receive $50,000 for each player that takes the score into surplus.
Haidar’s proposal crunched the numbers and revealed the Roosters would be entitled to an average of $100,000 in cap relief per season — the highest — from 2012-2021, while the Dragons would average just $15,000 per season — the lowest — after receiving the lowest “Net Player Supply” score.
“Concerningly, seven out of the 16 clubs had a team purity below 50 per cent in season 2021,” Haidar’s proposal stated.
“The overall NRL average was just 58.4 per cent reflecting exactly how often players are shuffling from one club to another.
“The unintended consequence of this is diminished opportunities for new talent to debut. Imported players fill roster spots and often take selection priority.
“Clearly, too many teams develop too few of their own. They lack the organic flavour that fans crave, making it difficult to sell the team as authentic.”
Under the current system, clubs receive a 10 per cent cap concession for the first two seasons for a player they have developed but it then drops to five per cent for every season after that.
“My view is that anything which promotes the development of players should be encouraged,” Eels chairman Sean McElduff said.
“The current development player allowance, which is 10 per cent for the first two years, shouldn’t reduce to five per cent after year two; it should actually go up.
“Why would it decrease? It should increase if you want to foster and reward the development of players, build loyalty with supporters and put more money into the game.
“This suggestion puts more money into players’ pockets, it rewards you for developing players and it helps in terms of tribalism and looking after fans. That would reward all clubs in the same way.”
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The Herald reports the Panthers agree with the Eels, while Raiders CEO Don Furner also saw merit in the proposal.
Furner believes the best way to reward clubs would be to base the cap concession off how long a player has been in the club’s system.
A five per cent concession would apply for players who had joined the club from Jersey Flegg/Hastings Deering Colts level (under 21s), 10 per cent for players that had joined from SG Ball level (under 19s) and 15 to 20 per cent for those that had joined at Harold Mathews level (under 16s).
“I’ve used the Roosters as an example — you don’t have to be born and bred in Bondi,” Furner told the Herald.
“Say you bring in a kid from Queensland like Jake Friend or Roger Tuivasa-Sheck from New Zealand, they should get the same reward as what we get when we bring Josh Papalii from Souths Logan to Canberra.
“Yes, Penrith has this big junior base, but this doesn’t disadvantage clubs like Melbourne, Brisbane or the Roosters.”
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Sharks general manager of football Darren Mooney weighed in on the topic.
“At the end of the day we definitely want to be talking about it, so if it creates a conversation around how we reward clubs for developing players, that’s a good thing,” Mooney told the Herald.
“The biggest issue I have got is if you’ve got $500k off the cap, who pays for that? The clubs do.
“You are basically spending money to develop players and then you’re spending more money to keep them because you’ve got a salary cap exemption.
“I’d also want to see the definition of ‘development’ before you talk about a system.
“It needs to go hand-in-hand with a development fee structure, because if there are really big development fees on a player, you question whether a club will sign them.”
Meanwhile, Rugby League Player’s Association CEO Clint Newtown, who had seen Haidar’s proposal, told the Herald that “anything that promotes the development of players and rewards clubs for bringing them into their rosters is worth a discussion.”
The topic of rewarding clubs for development has come up at the right time given the NRL will shortly begin negotiations with the RLPA on a new collective bargaining agreement.