The slightest ray of sunshine poked through the rain clouds of 2020 today, with the release of round one of the 2021 draw for the National Rugby League.
Unlike this time last year, where the NRL, and the television companies, showed little interest in the people’s team, the Raiders have managed to score themselves a free-to-air game for the first round of 2021, according to the Daily Telegraph. Free-to-air games are important for status, for recognition, but most importantly for convincing sponsors that they can get good exposure supporting the Milk.
It’s stark contrast to November 2019 when the NRL announced the good guys AKA the grand finalists were relegated to the graveyard shift also known as Sunday evening for the first game. Adding in the fact it was against our
traditional rivals fellow neglected child the Gold Coast Titans and you could understand why the Raiders, and all that support them, were a bit miffed.
It’s a modicum of respect, but one that should be taken with a grain of salt. In a sense we overreacted initially last year. When the NRL revealed the complete draw, Canberra had 8 games on free-to-air, and Don Furner would have been happy as a clam.
But then the coronavirus came, and Peter V’Landys capitulated to Channel 9, and the Raiders were kicked off free-to-air games. After these renegotiated television arrangements they had more games on free-to-air in the finals than they had in the entire regular season. It was disappointing, and would have likely had a real impact on their ability to source a big money major sponsor after the relationship with Huawei ended.
The rest of the draw will likely be released in the coming days. Given the Raiders temporary major sponsorship is up for grabs at the end of the 2021 season, we’ll be watching like a hawk for how many games they get on free-to-air in the coming season. For now at least, they’re halfway to their 2020 regular season total. It’s only a droplet of respect, but it’s an improvement.
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