Game may have lost ‘north of $10 million’ as sponsors go cold on NRL

The NRL could have lost more than $10 million in potential sponsorships during the off-season alone as the reputational hit from player behaviour strips revenue from clubs.

All of the teams spoken to by The Sun-Herald about the fallout resulting from behavioural issues said sponsors had been spooked by the Ben Barba and Jack de Belin incidents and new business was increasingly difficult to come by as the sagas threatened to drag on throughout the season.

Stirring up public opinion: Jack de Belin leaves court in Wollongong. Credit:Adam Mclean.

South Sydney chief executive Blake Solly estimated the damage at "north of $10 million" and said attracting new corporate dollars to the table was becoming a slog.

"It's been more difficult to attract new sponsors," he said. "It's slightly easier to retain existing sponsors because they see all the positives about the sport because they're already in it; they can see 95 per cent of the players in the game are fantastic and great role models.

"Clubs take a lot of players from difficult environments and challenged youths and they become great people with careers, home owners, family men. Existing sponsors know that and understand what we mean to the community we're in and continue to support it.

"New sponsors are the ones who feel that rugby league at the moment is too big a risk for them."

Titans chairman Dennis Watt said the NRL's Net Promoter Score (NSP), a measure of a company's relationship with its consumers, had dipped 13 points, which equated to about $6.5 million in revenue being left at the gate.

"It all goes to the brand," Watt said. "In this last little while, it’s dropped by 13 points. A point is apparently equivalent to $500,000. That’s us measured against soccer, the AFL and the rest.

"When you are talking about 13 points at $500,000 a point, that’s $6.5 million lost to the game in potential sponsorship. Clubs are saying they are on the verge of signing major sponsors and sponsors are walking away because of the stench around rugby league.

"That’s simply unfair for the vast majority of people in the game; it’s not a true reflection because it’s a tiny minority. And some of those cases obviously have to be adjudicated by courts."

Hard evidence: Damning CCTV footage forced the NRL’s hand when it came to the Ben Barba situation.Credit:Michele Mossop

Canberra chief executive Don Furner said the club had some solid sponsorships in place but would dread to be going to market for a new major signing given the current predicament of the league.

"We're OK but I'd hate to be looking for a couple of major sponsors right now. It would be a very hard sell," Furner said.

"The other thing is apart from all the off-field troubles, there are so many opportunities now compared to say 10 or 15 years ago. It used to be maybe cricket, NRL and AFL. Now there's a women's team in every code as well, [and] basketball, netball."

Furner said it was not uncommon for major sponsors to insert clauses where they can walk away from any big deals if a player brought their company into disrepute.

Watt said there could be even more longer-term financial pain unless the NRL altered the perceptions about portions of its playing group.

"As a game, when we get through this broadcast rights period, we don’t know where our next feed is coming from," Watt said. "We don’t know what the future is on that front.

"Nobody can guarantee the same level of funding will be forthcoming. The world of broadcasting is changing dramatically."

Wests Tigers chair Marina Go said the NRL should reflect community standards even if it meant sidelining players during court proceedings, citing a Herald poll that was overwhelmingly in favour of the standing down of the accused.

“That is the corporate standard. You look at teachers. A teacher accused of an incident of being inappropriate is immediately stood down. That is the community expectation.

“Peter Fitzsimons from your paper ran a poll asking people whether the player should be stood down or not … it was running at 86 per cent. That is massive. That tells you everything; we need to listen to community expectations.”

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How Long Have Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively Been Married?

Blake Lively and her husband, Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, look so natural together, one easily gets the impression that they’ve been a couple for a very long time. In fact, the two uber talented actors met for the first time nearly a decade ago, but they didn’t pair up until more recently.

How and when they met

Roll back to their first meeting on the set of Green Lantern. The year was 2010, and Lively was involved with her Gossip Girl co-star, Penn Badgley. Reynolds was married to Scarlett Johansson, so although Blake and Ryan liked working together, they didn’t start anything romantic. In fact, after they broke it off with their respective partners, they considered fixing each other up with suitable dates.

“We were such good friends for so long and we both got to know each other as friends so when we were both single, we were still trying to find each other’s perfect date. ‘Oh, who would be good for you?’ And it didn’t click for, I mean, a good year and a half.”

In a 2016 sit-down talk with GQ magazine, Reynolds explained that Deadpool took more than 11 years to make. His romance with Lively, however, blossomed during their first date.

“We were hanging out at this little restaurant in Tribeca that’s open really late, and this song came on and I was just like, ‘Want to dance?’ No one was in there, so it was just totally empty. And it was just one of those moments where halfway through the dance, it was like, ‘Oh, I think I just crossed a line.’ And then I walked her home. And, uh, you know, I don’t really need to go into what happened after that.”

By the summer of 2011, however, romance rumors started swirling and the rest is, as they say, Hollywood history.

In October of that year, E! Online reported seeing Lively on the set of R.I.P.D. where she hand-delivered a bunch of birthday balloons to Reynolds. By the time the film, which also starred Jeff Bridges, was released in theaters, Reynolds and Lively were a full-tilt couple. They spent the holidays together at his Vancouver family home which surely deepened their commitment.

By October 2011 Lively was sneaking up to Reynold’s R.I.P.D. set in Boston, bringing along her maltipoo Penny and a handful of balloons as a birthday surprise. Soon, she was a regular in his Vancouver hometown, spending the holidays at home with his family.

It wasn’t a huge surprise when the couple announced that they’d married one another less than one year later

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Lively and Reynolds say they prefer to keep a low profile, and they didn’t let a lot of people in on the secret wedding. They did, however, contact lifestyle guru Martha Stewart to help pull the whole thing together. After the wedding, Lively told Vogue magazine:

“Our wedding was becoming a disaster, and we didn’t know what to do, so we called Martha!”

Lively and Reynolds were joined in holy -and hilarious- matrimony in September 2012 in Charleston, South Carolina. Interestingly, Lively was fitted for her Gossip Girl character’s wedding dress just one day after getting married to Ryan Reynolds in real life.

Today, Reynolds and Lively share parenting joys at their upstate New York home about 90 minutes north of Manhattan. They are parents to two daughters, James and Ines.

The strategy of being good friends before marriage seems to be working well for Blake and Ryan. As Lively told Marie Claire,

“That was the biggest thing to me. I’d never known anything like the friendship that I had with him. I could like him as much as I loved him.”

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KFC and Pizza Hut have made a popcorn chicken and gravy pizza – and it looks incredible

The fried chicken giant teamed up with Pizza Hut to create the "gravy supreme", which has a cheesy bites crust.

Sadly, the Frankenfood isn't on sale yet as it was created to celebrate National Pizza Day at the weekend.

But KFC and Pizza Hut Delivery have said that if there's enough demand for the cheese feast, then it could appear on menus at both fast food chains some time this year.

The pizza would only be available at Pizza Hut takeaway chains, not dine-in restaurants, though.

The calorie-fest is made with a Pizza Hut Cheesy Bites base, which has a ring of cheese-filled dough balls instead of a crust.

The pizza is then smothered in KFC gravy, and topped with mozzarella cheese, KFC popcorn chicken and sweetcorn.

The chains can't say how much it would cost yet but a large Super Supreme with a Cheesy Bites base can set you back £23.48 at some branches, including four free dips.

The calorie count hasn't been revealed yet either but a large Super Supreme with Cheesy Bites contains a huge 2,800 calories.

To put that into context, an adult woman is advised to eat 2,000 in one day and a man shouldn't eat more than 2,500.

Not exactly a health food, then.

But you could always share it with friends – if you can bear to.

A spokesman from KFC UK & Ireland said: "Pairing our signature gravy and Popcorn Chicken with Pizza Hut’s famous base and toppings is a match made in heaven.

"Believe us when we say it’s a thing of absolute beauty."

A spokesman from Pizza Hut Delivery commented: “It combines the best of KFC and Pizza Hut to make the perfect pizza."

KFC has about 900 branches in the UK, and you can find your nearest restaurant using its online store finder.

Pizza Hut Delivery has about 300 shops in the UK. You can find your nearest restaurant online.

KFC has brought back Chicken Tuesdays where you can get nine pieces of chicken for £6.

We've also rounded up the best fast food loyalty schemes to find out which gives you the most bang for your buck.

Meanwhile, we've also put together a guide to how you can save money at all your favourite fast food chains.

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team? Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 78 24516. Don't forget to join the Sun Money's Facebook group for the latest bargains and money-saving advice.

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Solskjaer's Man Utd have spent less time in top four this season than Palace, Bournemouth and Watford

The Red Devils were a whopping 11 points behind Chelsea when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed interim boss.

Their incredible resurgence has seen them pick up 25 points from a possible 27.

A 3-0 victory away at Fulham on Sunday saw them leapfrog Chelsea into fourth with Maurizio Sarri's side humbled 6-0 at Manchester City.

It has been a long time coming with United fans having to wait 25 matches to occupy a Champions League spot.

It has been so rare this season that Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Watford have all spent more days in the top four.

The Hornets' terrific form at the start of the campaign saw them sit in fourth spot until their sixth game of the season.

Title-chasers Liverpool have spent 182 days inside the top four followed by Chelsea with 179.

Solskjaer will now turn his attentions to ensuring United remain in contention to qualify for the Champions League.

The Norwegian boss faces arguably his toughest test yet when United host Liverpool in their next league outing.

And next month they face back-to-back contests away at Arsenal before hosting Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

SunSport exclusively revealed how Solskjaer will be named the United boss on a permanent contract.

It is understood the decision has been made at board level, although the club may not announce it until the end of the season.

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Michael Jackson fans have a totally bizarre theory that the singer's older sister La Toya is really HIM in disguise

Despite being pictured together countless times and being born two years apart, it hasn't stopped conspiracy theorists from saying the siblings are the same person.

The fan theory emerged in the '90s, with their love of plastic surgery being enough to convince some that the mad theory is correct.

And while there's plenty of people who have debunked the myth, every few years the theory gets brought back to life.

Some believe the person faked Michael's death so they wouldn't have to continue being a double act.

And others on the Internet insist – despite numerous pics – that they have never seen the pair together.

It comes just after another madcap conspiracy emerged online that the King of Pop is still alive after footage emerged of his crypt on YouTube.

A clip of his tomb allegedly shot by his cousin Latoya on his birthday last year (June 25) shows where the singer was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.

But one online conspiracy theorist claims there is a problem with it saying: "There is still no name on his crypt and it's because he is not dead and not inside.

"He is not buried there, nothing adds up.

"Absolutely nothing, something was wrong with the death certificate, and then the coroner and the autopsy – it all adds up."

The YouTube clip has since racked up more than 3,000 views and left some viewers convinced the singer is still moonwalking around the world.

One said: "You are so right, I agree – if he were dead, why wouldn't they have his name right there!"

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Americans have finally wised up when it comes to Trump

Americans have learned through experience to disregard most of what President Donald Trump says. The days of Trump snookering most of the people most of the time are over.

Trump’s presidency is hanging by a thread – the economy. Credit:Susan Walsh

According to the latest CBS News poll, 66 percent of Americans don't think Trump should declare an emergency to build the wall. While 58 percent think the economy is very or somewhat good, when asked "how the country overall is doing compared to a year ago, more say the country is worse off (50 percent) than better (28 percent)." Large majorities believe Trump has not brought manufacturing jobs back to the United States (55 percent), made the US borders more secure (62 percent), reduced the influence of donors and lobbyists (71 percent), been a role model (73 percent) or tried to unify Americans (65 percent).

Majorities have little or no confidence in his ability to apply business-world ideas to government, handle North Korea negotiating or strike deals with Congress (58 percent don't think now is the time for Trump to have another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and 82 percent think Pyongyang has expanded or kept its nuclear weapons program).

A substantial majority, 62 percent, think Trump has not handled the Russia probe appropriately, while a healthy margin of 54 to 46 percent think Robert Mueller has handled the investigation fairly.

What can we learn from all of this?

First, Trump's attack on the press has been a bust. He hasn't been able to generate sympathy for himself or undermine accurate reporting on foreign policy (e.g. talks with North Korea haven't actually accomplished what Trump said they did) or on domestic matters (e.g. there is no southern border emergency), nor has he been able to maintain illusions about himself (e.g., he has successfully run government like a business, he is a dealmaking genius).

Second, Trump's presidency is hanging by a thread – the economy. With unemployment so low and attitudes toward the economy so high, it is historically anomalous to see such negative attitudes toward the president and such pessimism about the direction of the economy. The divide between attitudes toward Trump (dropping into the high 30s in most polls) on one hand and, on the other, the economy and willingness to credit Trump for the economy (46 percent give Trump a great deal of credit on the economy; another 31 percent give him some credit) suggest that good economic times don't make up for Trump's atrocious performance on other matters. Coupled with the fact that presidents get a disproportionate amount of credit or blame for the economy, one could see his meager approval numbers sinking still further should we enter a period of economic decline.

Finally, Democrats in 2020 will have a receptive audience if they make the case that Trump has made the US less free, less united, less respected in the world, less safe and less decent as a people. If the country does hit the economic skids, they should not be shying on pointing to his economic stewardship, but they should be precise in their indictment of his economic results. In the aggregate the economy continues to grow and add jobs (although at a slower pace than under President Barack Obama); the problems concern how widely prosperity is shared, the disparity between wage growth and growth of expenses (e.g. college, health care), and the economic fortunes of future generations.

Voters are surely predisposed to vote against Trump. The challenge for the eventual Democratic presidential nominee will be to explain his or her vision in which voters see wider distribution of wealth and enjoy a kinder, gentler, saner and more united America. It's really not too much to ask for – nor for a nominee to deliver.

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Vegans 'have twice as many sick days as their meat eating colleagues'

The study found that vegans had almost five days off a year for the likes of flu, cold and minor ailments – well above the national average.

They were also three times more likely to visit the GP.

Vegans reportedly booking 2.6 appointments to see the doctor during the cold and flu season, compared to the national average of 0.7.

Two-thirds of vegans also admitted to taking more time off work due to illness in 2018 than in previous years.

Meanwhile half of meat eaters said they took the same amount of time off, and a third actually reckoned they took less time off in 2018.

The study of 1,000 office workers was part of the Fisherman’s Friend annual cold and flu survey.


The survey also revealed that millennial workers take three times more time off work than those aged 55 and over.

Workers in Nottingham, London and Norwich took the most days off.

Veganism is becoming increasingly mainstream in the UK, with the likes of Greggs and Frankie and Benny's cashing in with vegan options.


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Fresh and Brooklinen Have Created the Sleep Kit of Our Dreams

Sweet dreams are made of this! The skincare gurus at Fresh have teamed up with the bedding experts at Brooklinen on a limited-edition gift set that is all about beauty sleep. As if you needed another reason to dive into bed, the $98 kit includes a full-size jar of the new Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Night Cream and not one but two embroidered Brooklinen pillowcases.

“While a good nights’ sleep is fundamental to rejuvenate and regenerate the mind and body, it’s also critical for your skin’s health which is why we always say that sleep is the most important beauty ingredient,” Fresh co-founder Alina Roytberg said in a statement. “Also key to a good night’s sleep is the right bed, which is why we’re teaming up with Brooklinen. The combination of their bedding and our new Lotus Dream Cream will make for a beautiful nighttime ritual.”

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While our skin works to protect itself all day long, it switches into recovery mode at night, making a good P.M. skincare regimen particularly important. Fresh’s new botanical-packed formula is meant to address signs of aging (think: loss of firmness, fine lines and dullness) with antioxidant-rich lotus working to hydrate and strengthen the skin’a barrier function, peach leaf extract boosting radiance and evening tone and chamomile flower oil providing a calming effect on stressed skin.

Ashley Tisdale Tells Us How to Use Her New Illuminate Cosmetics Highlight and Contour Palettes

Night creams can get a bad rap for being too heavy for oily or breakout-prone skin, but this whipped formula is lightweight enough to work on all skin types (we tried it!) without sacrificing moisture and can be applied nightly on top of whatever serums or oils you currently have on rotation.

And as for that good night’s sleep, Brooklinen has created two special-edition 480-thread count standard pillowcases for the collab. Embroidered in light blue, the cases feature cheeky mantras like “Beauty Sleep in Progress” and “Do Not Disturb.”

Stars Without Makeup: See Stars Going Makeup-Free and Loving It!

So whether the change of season has your complexion out of whack or you’re still recuperating from that post-holiday hangover, the Fresh x Brooklinen Beauty Sleep Box Set is here to ensure you’re never left counting sheep again.

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Does Kate Middleton Have Any Tattoos?

There is so much interest in the royal family these days that people want to know everything about them from what their zodiac signs are to what nicknames they have for each other. So it’s not surprising that people also have been questioning if any of them have tattoos or if they are even allowed to get permanent ink.

In 2018, Middleton caused quite stir when she was spotted with a small marking on her body during an opening for a new artist’s residence in Sunderland, England. This had many questioning if she had just gotten some fresh ink and if that was her only one. Here’s the answer to whether the duchess does have tattoos and if other royal family members, like Meghan Markle, have them as well.

Kate Middleton | Pool/Getty Images

Does Middleton have any tattoos?

The marking in question, which was spotted on Middleton’s right hand, was actually a semi-permanent tattoo as the future queen of England does not have any real ink.

While speaking with a group from Young Asian Voices, Prince William’s wife was asked by one of the girls if she could draw a henna design on her hand.

“I said ‘Would you like a design?’ and she was like ‘Yes, if you don’t mind,’” Shajida Begum, who drew the black flower explained. “She was saying that it was really pretty. I was just telling her how it works. I was telling her when she can wash it off — I said ‘when it becomes flaky.’”

Henna tattoos are done with a natural dye and last anywhere from one to four weeks.

Does Meghan Markle have any tattoos?

Meghan Markle | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

So now that we know Middleton doesn’t have any real tattoos what about her sister-in-law, Meghan Markle, who joined the royal family in May 2018 after marrying Prince Harry?

The former Suits actress reportedly doesn’t have any permanent ink either. Like Middleton, Markle sticks to henna and tattoo jewelry. When she and Harry visited New Zealand in October the duchess wore a necklace with a diamond spiral pendant called the “Tattoo Pendant,” which values for around $12,000.

That’s more expensive than most real tats but much less of a commitment of course.

Other royals who have tattoos

Lady Amelia Windsor | Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Although the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex don’t have any permanent artwork on them, other royals do. Prince William and Prince Harry’s cousin, Lady Amelia Windsor, for example, has multiple tattoos.

The Daily Mail noted that she has one on each of her wrists as well as a tiger on her shoulder. While the royal family usually has rules for everything, there is no such one against getting a tattoo.

Other royal families in Europe don’t seem to have a rule against that either as Princess Sofia of Sweden, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, and Princess Stéphanie of Monaco all have tattoos.

Read more: Is Kate Middleton Pregnant With Her Fourth Child?

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BEY-by Bombshell! Beyoncé & Jay Z Desperate To Have A Little Boy

They’re firmly on track relationship-wise, and now has exclusively learned Beyonce and Jay Z have decided to cement their happiness with another baby!

“They’re interviewing surrogates and want another little boy, which they say will complete their family,” an insider told Radar.

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Of course, Beyoncé and Jay Z already are proud parents to daughter Blue Ivy and adorable 13-month-old twins Rumi and Sir, but the singers say there’s always room for more!

“This year has been all about togetherness for the Carters,” the insider added. “They figure they’re young, healthy and have the help at hand so why not?”

At 37, the Queen B seems ready to pass the responsibility of carrying a child off to a highly qualified surrogate.

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“It’s about getting the very best candidate to carry their child,” the insider admitted. “They’re taking their time with the process.”

But not too much time, as the power couple hopes to end 2019 with a new addition.

“They definitely want it to happen, so they can welcome the newborn by the end of next year at the latest.”

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