The NRL will decide whether to move the grand final to Brisbane by the end of the week after Peter V’landys accused the NSW Government of reneging on a handshake deal over stadium upgrades.
League officials and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet remained at odds on Wednesday, as the NRL threatened to take the high-stakes stadia stoush to the court room.
The crux of the issue remains funding that was initially set aside in 2018 for the rebuild of Accor Stadium, which helped secure an agreement to keep the grand final in Sydney until 2042.
That rebuild was put off during COVID, with the government then agreeing to spend some of that money on new stadiums and suburban ground upgrades.
As recently as April both V’landys and Perrottet had met over the matter, with the $300 million Penrith Stadium locked in and the NRL expecting several suburban grounds to receive a combined $250 million in renovations.
But Perrottet told V’landys this week that would no longer be a priority, with money directed to the rebuilding effort after the state’s floods.
Perrottet also made clear in a press conference on Wednesday he was willing to make the unpopular decision, as he was accountable to the people of NSW and not V’landys.
“I never asked him to be answerable to me,” V’landys told AAP afterwards.
“I have asked him to honour an agreement.
“You can’t cherrypick which ones you offer and which ones you don’t.
“If someone had a contract to buy your house, you would expect them to go through with the sale.”
The ARL Commission chairman also pointed to the fact he was seeking $550 million in works across suburban grounds, as opposed to the $800 million that was to be spent on Accor.
“We’re technically asking for less money,” V’landys said.
“He (Perrottet) is using a human tragedy with the floods to spin it.
“This is about the fifth excuse. And that’s why to me it’s not credible.
“When you consider the amount of the overall budget, it is minuscule spend.”
V’landys said the commission would meet over the venue for the October 2 grand final this week as he sought legal advice on whether it could exit Sydney.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reaffirmed on Wednesday that her state’s door was open to host the grand final again, after Brisbane’s historic decider last year during Sydney’s lockdown.
“I’m setting a timeline to make a decision by the end of this week,” V’landys said.
Perrottet said it would be “very disappointing” if Sydney was to lose the grand final.
But he was steadfast in his position over where budget money needed to be directed, and pointed to $1.8 billion spent on stadiums and centres of excellence in recent years.
“There is no other state that has put as much investment in sporting infrastructure as the NSW Government,” Perrottet said.
“But when circumstances change, priorities change too. Ultimately, I am not accountable to Peter V’landys. I am accountable to the people of NSW.
“I have over 1000 people without a home, based on the flooding that we have seen across New South Wales.”
Perrottet’s position has been backed by the opposition, however Labor have raised concerns over the Penrith stadium rebuild in newly-resigned sports minister Stuart Ayres’ seat ahead of other venues.
V’landys said he would not request that the money currently dedicated to Penrith’s stadium be split across other clubs, happy for it to go ahead.