March 30, 2020 / 8:01 AM / 2 months ago

Rugby League-Australia's NRL to cut 95% of staff in bid to survive shutdown

MELBOURNE, March 30 (Reuters) - Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) will cut 95% of its staff and slash executive pay as part of a “recovery plan” agreed with clubs during the coronavirus shut-down.

The NRL, the most popular sporting competition in the eastern states, was suspended last week after only two rounds of the season following new travel restrictions and border controls.

The NRL said its plan would ensure the survival of all 16 clubs even if the 2020 season were wiped out completely along with the lucrative, annual State of Origin series between representative sides from New South Wales and Queensland.

“The revised financial models provide clubs with the capacity to survive the financial year with either a remodelled 20-week competition, including finals series and Origin, or a worst case scenario of no football being played again this year,” the NRL said in a statement.

The plan includes cutting the NRL’s operating costs by 53%, including a 95% reduction in staff during the shutdown period and a 25% cut in executive salaries.

The NRL said it would pay the clubs a total of A$40 million ($24.50 million) between April and October to cover their ongoing operational costs, an increase of A$6.4 million from the previous 2020 budget.

It had also proposed a funding model to the players’ union for their consideration.

Media have reported players are bracing themselves for paycuts of up to 87%.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said its decisions would mean “short-term pain” but ensure the league’s sustainability.

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

“These measures will put the game in the best position to rebound strongly from the pandemic.” (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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