1 Feb 2011

Gallop denies News Ltd holding up NRL independent commission

11:55 am on 1 February 2011

A furious NRL rugby league boss David Gallop has slammed as nonsense speculation News Ltd is now responsible for delays in the move towards an independent commission to run rugby league.

A report on Monday suggested News Ltd was holding out in an attempt to secure one last favourable television deal for the network it partly owns, Fox Sports, before it exited its 50 per cent stake in the NRL.

Such a move would threaten the $A1 billion ($NZ1.29 billion) figure which it has been speculated rugby league, a proven ratings winner, could earn from a new deal beginning in 2013.

The flow-on from that would be less than anticipated increases in the NRL's salary cap and, potentially, the continuing loss of stars such as Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau to big-spending rival codes.

The report suggested club chairmen were unnerved by suggestions of another delay and were planning an urgent meeting to discuss their next move.

League insiders have suggested an NRL club disgruntled at a recent salary cap decision are behind the report.

Formal negotiations on the new TV deal are on hold until a commission begins operations.