The Wests Tigers’ win in the 2005 NRL
premiership is a big poke in the eye for the Murdochs and their Foxtel
partners, the Packers.

Wests Tigers were among the also-rans of
the NRL financially: they underspent their cap and yet still beat the
North Queensland Cowboys – a club controlled by News Ltd.

For
the Packers and and their long support of Easts, it’s a salutary lesson
that money doesn’t win everything. Easts have spent millions over the
years on new players, new coaches, support staff and facilities. Since
2000, they have had four Grand Finals appearances and one win, while
Wests Tigers have one from one.

And in ratings terms, Easts
couldn’t deliver as strong a result as Wests Tigers and the Cowboys did
on Sunday night: the results since 2001 speak for themselves. A record
audience for the Nine Network on Sunday night, which means more money
and a little relief on the financial front for the Packer’s struggling
network. That was something they couldn’t claim from Easts.

Meanwhile,
News Ltd has sunk the best part of half a billion dollars into rugby
league since 1995 and has ownership involvement in the North Queensland
Cowboys, the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos, which go with
the newspaper interests in the three regions.

Since the ending
of the Super League Wars, the Storm and Broncos have won premierships
but have been nowhere near as popular as the Wests Tigers’ win at the
weekend. Like South Sydney, News Ltd and its mates tried to kill off
Wests and Balmain, with Easts in there for an assist all the way.

So
here’s a message here for Rupert, Lachie, the Packers and their rich
mates at Easts: money helps the make the world go round, but it doesn’t
win genuine friendship and popularity.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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