UPDATE: Sydney’s Accor Stadium will host the 2022 NRL grand final, but Australian Rugby League Commission boss Peter V’landys has made it clear future years are very much up for grabs.
New South Wales has held off a bid from Queensland to steal the decider, with V’landys conceding only last-minute concessions kept the game in Sydney, admitting that Brisbane held the edge as late as Wednesday afternoon.
The ARLC had been at odds with the NSW government after Premier Dominic Perrottet walked away from a promise to fund upgrades to suburban grounds, with V’landys threatening to move the grand final interstate.
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Queensland’s Suncorp Stadium hosted last year’s decider due to Sydney’s COVID-19 lockdown.
“We have made a decision that we believe is in the best interests of our fans,” V’landys said.
“This is only for one year, I have to stress that. It’s not for the long-term. Negotiations will re-commence for future grand finals.
“It’s really put it on the table for future years, it opens the door for a Super Bowl-type concept, or whoever can give us the best deal for the game.”
V’landys pointed out that once the Dolphins enter the competition in 2023, there will be four teams based in Queensland.
“Premier (Annastacia) Palaszczuk is brilliant to work with, I rang her before we made the announcement, she understands politics and what we needed to do,” V’landys said.
“If you pro-rata it, one in every four years should go to Queensland. It’s given us the opportunity to look at that.”
The ARLC wouldn’t reveal exactly how much the NSW government had forked out to keep the match in Sydney, but did confirm the deal only covered the grand final, not the contentious stadium upgrades or funding for centres of excellence.
The NSW government says it needs to re-direct the money that was set aside for the improvements to the flood recovery after the state was battered earlier this year.
That’s an excuse that doesn’t wash with V’landys, who accused Perrotet of not honouring his promises.
“The premier is a very good bloke. Dom and I, I believe are friends, or we were up until a couple of weeks ago,” he said.
“Dom is a very good premier, he’s a very good human being, but don’t have a bet with him, because if you win he won’t pay you.”
V’landys started his announcement by jokingly revealing that Sydney and Brisbane had both missed out.
“I’ll be very short and sweet, the Commission has been in negotiations now for over a week,” he said.
“So we wanted to give it to a city that needs a major football event, and that is why we have gone with Melbourne.
“Just kidding … greetings Gil (McLachlan) if you are watching.”
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