Melbourne co-owner Matthew Tripp has labelled the $100,000 awarded to rugby league's minor premiers as embarrassing and claims the NRL won't be taken as seriously as the AFL, which offers almost six times as much.
Melbourne host Cronulla on Saturday night in a clash to decide the minor premiership. The winner will be presented with the JJ Giltinan Shield and a cheque for $100,000, the reward for being the most-consistent team over 26 regular-season rounds.
However, clubs feel the amount is too low, particularly when compared to the riches on offer in other sports.
The AFL doesn't offer a cash prize for finishing the regular season in top spot. However, it awards $71,000 each for the two clubs eliminated in the first week of the finals, $110,000 for those in the second round, $330,000 for losing preliminary finalists and $660,000 for the runners-up. The premiers pocket $1.2 million, bringing the AFL's total pool to almost $2.9 million.
The NRL, by comparison, offers only $500,000 made up from $100,000 to the minor premiers and just $400,000 to the grand final winners.
Tripp told Fairfax Media on Wednesday night the disparity reflected badly on the NRL administration.
"$100,000 is embarrassing for the amount of work that goes in over the course of a pre-season and a season.
"The prestige of winning the minor premiership has waned quite considerably and it's certainly not front of mind for a lot of clubs these days because the incentive isn't there.
"If they want to be seen as a peer of - and on equal footing to - the AFL, there are areas (league administrators) need to improve in order to be taken as seriously as the AFL. This is obviously one key area that they need to fix.
"I would dearly love to be able to reward the entire club for the amount of work that goes in over the course of those 26 rounds.
"But we have a huge payroll that are not just players - we've got an administerial roster, and $100,000 doesn't go very far," Tripp said.
He said the disparity is made more farcical by the riches on offer at the Auckland Nines. The Nines' winner takes home $370,000, while clubs are guaranteed $110,000 just for turning up.