Australian News

NRL gives clubs $2.5 million each to help them survive financial impact of coronavirus pandemic


March 30, 2020 17:19:00

NRL clubs will receive just $2.5 million each from the governing body to survive the coronavirus pandemic should the season fail to resume this year.

Key points:

  • The $40 million rescue package was announced following an emergency ARLC meeting held today
  • The package guarantees clubs three months’ funding during the coronavirus crisis
  • The NRL will reduce operating costs by 53 per cent and cut executive salaries by 25 per cent cut

The ARL Commission (ARLC) today guaranteed three months’ funding for clubs following the latest emergency meeting to discuss the worst-case scenario for the competition.

That includes two months’ pay for the players under a proposed 75 per cent pay cut should the rest of the season be wiped out.

The ARLC last week informed clubs that it had enough funds to pay their monthly club grants of $1.2 million for the next three months.

But, following meetings with the Rugby League Players Association over the last week, it is understood players will get two months’ pay to last the next seven months.

A quarter of the players’ pay will come from the game’s injury-hardship fund, while it is expected a tiered pay cut will be applied to protect minimum-wage players.

That leaves the clubs with just $2.5 million each to survive, with a smaller one-off payment expected to arrive in July.

The NRL says the total $40 million rescue package would be an increase of $6.4 million to its planned budget for the 2020 season.

The figures emerged after it was revealed head office would reduce operating costs by 53 per cent and cut executive salaries by 25 per cent cut.

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Ninety-five per cent of NRL staff are not working while the season is suspended.

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said he was hopeful the competition could resume in July, when lucrative broadcast payments would also recommence.

“We have a consolidated plan and, working with the clubs and the players, are united in our efforts to do all we can to protect rugby league,” he said in a statement.

“We had no option but to stop the competition in the wake of advice from our biosecurity and pandemic expert, but remain optimistic that the season will restart as quickly as possible, ideally by July 1.

“If that isn’t possible, then we need to be prepared for that option as well and are making the tough financial decisions now to reduce costs to ensure we get through this crisis.”

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The likelihood of a reduction in the salary cap, part of a cost restructuring of the game, is also believed to have been discussed during the emergency meeting.

The salary cap was expected to hit $9.9 million next year and $10 million in the final year of the current broadcast deal in 2022.

“We are working together to achieve the best outcome in the short, and long term,” NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.

“We must use this opportunity to reset the game’s costs and overall structure.

“These measures will put the game in the best position to rebound strongly from the pandemic.”

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