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Sydney closer to keeping 2021 grand final after new talks

Delays to the start of work on the Sydney Olympic Park venue’s redevelopment mean it will almost certainly not be ready by then.

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The hit to the NRL’s  bottom line from playing at the smaller-capacity SCG is projected to be more than $10 million for each of the two grand finals and while the game’s governing body was prepared to swallow the shortfall for 2020 it was not willing to do so for 2021.

It is understood no formal compensation offer was made by the government at a meeting on Thursday but both parties emerged from discussions with the belief they were moving closer to a mutually desirable result.

“The NSW government meet with key stakeholders all of the time,” a spokesman for NSW Sports Minister John Sidoti said.

“The details of those meetings remain private and confidential.”

Should no formal offer eventuate and ANZ remain unavailable, the NRL will put the match on the open market.

The ARL Commission has tasked NRL chief Todd Greenberg with handling discussions with the government but ARLC chair Peter Beattie has been forced to bear the brunt of the criticism north of the border, where the Queensland goverment is pushing to host a grand final at Suncorp Stadium.

Several Queensland state government ministers have been vocal in their criticism of Beattie – a former Queensland Premier – and his insistence that the NSW government has first rights to stage the 2021 decider.

Beattie declined to comment about Thursday’s meeting when contacted by the Herald.

While Suncorp Stadium would be a logical host given rugby league’s stranglehold on the state, sold-out Origin crowds at the MCG and more recently Perth’s Optus Stadium could trigger a bidding war should the game go onto the open market.

The Western Australian government threw its hat in the ring prior to the success of Origin II and the Victorian government has also expressed similar interest in hosting the showpiece event.

“Melbourne is the sports and major events capital of Australia, with the best and biggest stadiums and we’re always looking at new opportunities to further cement our reputation for hosting premier sporting events,” said Victoria’s Acting Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Marlene Kairouz.

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