NRL warned over grand final fan backlash
The NSW Government has warned NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg that he would have to confront angry fans if he took the 2021 grand final away from Sydney.
Next year's grand final will be at the SCG but a venue for the following season's decider remains clouded because ANZ Stadium will be unavailable due to an $800 million refurbishment.
That has Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria poised to lodge multimillion-dollar bids to steal the grand final from Sydney, its spiritual home.
The NRL agreed last year to play grand finals in NSW until 2042 if the government upgraded and rebuilt its major stadiums.
However, that deal is now in jeopardy given a six-month delay to the completion of ANZ Stadium.
There is a reluctance to hold NRL grand finals at the SCG for successive years in 2021 and 2022.
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NSW sports minister John Sidoti said Greenberg would have to publicly explain a decision to shift the big game interstate.
"Ultimately, it's a decision they (NRL) are going to have to make," Sidoti told The Big Sports Breakfast Weekend radio program. "They (will) have a lot of explaining to do if they want to take a grand final out of NSW.
"As a New South Welshman, I am always going to say NSW is where you want to have grand finals. We are the home of rugby league and always will be.
"I don't envisage seeing a grand final in another state but it would be a question you'd have to ask the rugby league and Todd Greenberg. I don't think it (moving the game) is going to be great. Why would you want to take a Roosters-Souths grand final to Queensland?
"Todd Greenberg recognises the $2 billion investment by our government in making and building outstanding, world-class stadiums which will have a great effect on rugby league."
Just last week, Perth revealed a desire to host the 2021 grand final at the new Optus Stadium, where State of Origin II was played this year.
"We will continue to work closely with the government to find a solution which both recognises the NSW government's significant investment in stadia but also provides the best options for the game and our fans," Greenberg said.
It is understood Greenberg and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian have a strong working relationship.
Sidoti said talks had started between the government and NRL about finding a venue in Sydney to play the 2021 decider. It is hoped the Allianz Stadium rebuild may be completed for the 2022 grand final but the ground would only hold 45,000.
Asked if that was a ground capacity to host a grand final, Sidoti said: "I think it is. There's no doubt about it.
"And I think there is something nice about having it at the SCG. It was held there for many, many years. The atmosphere alone is worth the price of admission at the SCG.
"(It would be) a huge crowd with a lot of atmosphere. You could sit home on the lounge and be nice and comfy but it isn't the same atmosphere."