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Abdo Named New NRL CEO As League Targets $50 Million In Cuts

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ustralian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman, Peter V’landys, has announced NRL interim chief executive, Andrew Abdo will fill the vacant CEO role full-time, saying “Andrew will probably be the best CEO we’ve ever had”.

The move comes as the NRL announced its plans to cut $40-50 million from operating costs in preparation of the league exploring the introduction of a second Brisbane-based club.

Abdo had previously acted as the NRL’s chief commercial officer, before taking the acting CEO role in April after former CEO, Todd Greenberg, stepped down.

Abdo, since taking over as CEO, has overseen the competition’s return to play from the COVID-19 enforced season suspension, and said he plans to introduce a three-phase plan to protect the future of the game based on “stabilising, renovating and growing”.

“The Commission has set us the task of making sure that we’re sustainable so that we can rebuild our balance sheet, ensure our finances and invest in the two things that we have to think about,” Abdo said.

“One is the elite side of the sport, the entertainment side of the business.

“And the other is investing in the future, participation, pathways, and grassroots.

“Of course its emotional and difficult to make decisions around people and how, but we have a job to do and we have to think about interests long-term and the long-term sustainability of the game and put that above personal or short-term decisions.

“As the headquarters of the sport you’re often scrutinised by stakeholder and it’s difficult to keep everyone happy.

“But I think one thing that has shown through this crisis, if we communicate regularly and are transparent about what we are doing, we might not make everyone happy all the time but we can build a sense of trust, unity and teamwork.

“It would be fairly obvious to say that from time to time there has been a deep mistrust between stakeholders in the game.

“But we’re rebuilding that.

“I think Peter has shown that the way you rebuild trust is through actions and regular communication.

“That’s a pretty daunting hurdle set but I’d like to be judged on my actions, that I’m able to deliver with a number of stakeholders,” he said, when asked about V’landys prediction he could be the best CEO the NRL has seen.

V’landys said Abdo’s skillset and knowledge puts the league in the best position to succeed.

“Andrew has done an outstanding job as interim CEO,” V’landys said.

“The Commission could not be happier with his work ethic and the way he has led the game through the pandemic.

“There’s no better person to take rugby league in a new innovative direction.

“Andrew has one of the best commercial brains in Australian sport.

“He has been the one who has brought in the majority of our new non broadcast revenues.

“Prior to the pandemic our revenues had increased by 15 per cent, year on year, for the past four years and that was down to Andrew and his team.

“Andrew’s commercial and financial background is the perfect skillset for the game’s needs moving forward.

“We are re-setting our cost base and we need to make smart investments to set the game up for future generations.

“Andrew thinks outside the square and will look at ways to do things differently.

“Andrew also possesses a cool and calm temperament which is a vital asset with the many pressures of our great game,” he said.

Discussing the likelihood of the NRL introducing a second Brisbane club, V’landys said a lot of work has to be done beforehand after the 2020 season wraps up.

“Even though I’m a very strong supporter of a second team in Brisbane, it’s got to be a strong business sense … We can’t cannibalise the Broncos or the Titans,” V’landys said.

“So there’s a lot of work to do in analysing that situation.

“There won’t be a second Brisbane team unless the business case stacks up.

“We’ll be doing that at the end of the year.

“There’s plenty of time.

“There’s no time set as to when we introduce a second Brisbane team.

“It might be a year away, two years away, three years away.

“But I stress again, the business case has to stack up,” he said.