Maroons make $2m bungle as jersey rights flogged off cheap
QUEENSLAND Rugby League has been rocked by a multimillion-dollar sponsorship bungle after flogging off the famous Maroons Origin jumper at a bargain price in a last-minute discount deal.
In a major embarrassment for Queensland Rugby League bosses, The Courier-Mail can reveal the naming rights to the Maroons jersey - one of the most powerful brands in Australian sport - has fetched a paltry $80,000.
Revelations of Queensland's woeful new deal come as its struggling rival, NSW, last night launched its 2018 Origin jersey, worth in excess of $1 million a year.
It's also understood the NSW women's jersey comes with a price tag of about $200,000, for a game that is not even televised.
It is one of the worst administrative gaffes in the QRL's 109-year history, with industry experts claiming the cut-price deal has cost State of Origin's most successful team at least $2 million.
The Maroons have won 11 of the past 12 Origin series and should have sponsors banging down the door after a global sports-marketing firm last year found that the Queensland jumper is worth $42 million in corporate value.
But despite another series victory this year, two key marquee sponsors have deserted the Maroons. Facing the farcical scenario of a Maroons jumper with no sponsors, the QRL brokered an 11th-hour, 12-month arrangement with Intrust Super, which they announced on Tuesday night.
A leaked image of the 2018 Queensland Origin jumper, obtained exclusively by The Courier-Mail, confirms Intrust Super as the major sponsor.
The naming-rights deal is worth about $80,000 for the Maroons' 2018 Origin campaign - well shy of the estimated $650,000 paid last season by Suncorp, which has quit as major sponsor. Event broker Max Markson last night lamented Queensland's Origin fire sale.
"I literally cannot believe this deal _ it is pure madness," Markson said.
"The Queensland Maroons are one of the most successful teams in Australian sporting history.
"Rugby league is the biggest sport in NSW and Queensland and State of Origin is one of the highest-rating TV shows annually.
"In my eyes, the Queensland jumper is worth at least $600,000 a season.
"If their commercial team can't get that amount per year for that jumper, they aren't trying.
"It's truly berserk. The QRL have cost themselves millions over a long-term deal.
"That is robbing the Queensland Rugby League of millions to invest in grassroots and initiatives in their organisation.
"This is a serious deal that you have to get right. Kevin Walters (Queensland coach) should give a motivational talk to their commercial division because they've got it terribly wrong."
Suncorp and The Star have walked away from the Maroons for next season, while XXXX - which has sponsored Queensland for 25 years - has reduced its investment.
Leading companies Bank of Queensland and RACQ were keen to sponsor the Maroons, but baulked at the QRL's $1 million-plus asking price.
Intrust Super then paid $520,000 this season to sponsor the QRL's premier rugby league competition.
As part of a five-year competition naming-rights upgrade, Intrust Super is contracted to sponsor the Maroons for only 2018, with its total investment next season worth around $600,000.
That means the additional component of Intrust Super's new deal - the Queensland Origin jumper - has effectively been sold for $80,000.
QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher dismissed suggestions the Maroons jumper has been devalued and claims its sponsorship stable is worth more than its NSW rivals.
"We are very happy with this arrangement, but we are keeping our options open for the longer term on what the jersey sponsorship is worth to the QRL," he said.