Could newly unemployed media boss David Gyngell be the man to take the reins at the National Rugby League?
This is the question being asked on social media sites and some league fan sites. While Fairfax Media is reporting that Gyngell has already been approached to take up some sort of role within the game, most likely as a commissioner.
Gyngell, whose rein as Nine boss finished yesterday, is a well-known league fan and could prove the perfect fit at NRL HQ after previous CEO Dave Smith quit suddenly last month and finished-up last week.
The only factor going against Gyngell could possibly be an Eastern Suburbs bias. Gyngell is a well-known Roosters fan and many critics of the management of the game say it has too much of an Eastern Suburbs influence when the heartland of the game is in Sydney’s west.
Another factor in his favour is his ability to negotiate TV rights, something his predecessor, Dave Smith, left in a right mess. It is also believed Gyngell is well liked by league’s other major players – News, Foxtel and Telstra.
Unlike Smith, Gyngell also knows the game and arguably could name its stars. His media credentials are also unquestionable.
Meanwhile in other NRL news it appears Foxtel is back in negotiations to host live games. In August, the NRL announced a deal with Gyngell’s Nine network that gave them the bulk of live games from 2018-2022. This naturally infuriated Foxtel and its owner News Corp.
However, it has been announced this morning that Foxtel is in negotiations to score a live Friday night game at 6pm. It would be a precursor to Nine’s 8pm game and would most likely feature teams that don’t rate well in the Sydney and Brisbane TV markets.
The Australian is this morning reporting that despite all the argy-bargy and acrimony around the rights deal and Foxtel’s exclusion there has, in fact, been a fair amount of work going on behind the scenes that should placate all parties; even if that means Nine giving up some of the live games it was promised in the initial deal.
And the NRL would arguably be very keen to put pen to paper. With Nine’s $925 million in the kitty it’s still a long way short of the $1.8 billion the game’s management was after for the four years. Which again is a long way short of the $2.5 billion the AFL got for its rights.
The Oz is reporting that a deal with Foxtel is expected in coming weeks and would include the pay TV operator paying $150 million a year for five years to secure five live games each weekend.
However, any deal would be dependent on Foxtel getting back its coveted live and exclusive Saturday night match.