Coronavirus: NRL chief eager for all 16 clubs to survive amid financial worries

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NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg wants to see all 16 clubs survive amid financial worries, but said some were being hit by the “perfect storm”.

The NRL announced on Monday it was suspending its season until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Like many sports and leagues around the world, the financial impact is set to be felt by the NRL and its clubs, but Greenberg is keen to ensure none fold.

“That’s been the commission’s view from start to finish is that no-one gets left behind and we’ve got to make sure that we have an ability to help all 16 stay afloat for the premiership and for the long-term and that’s really important,” he told Fox Sports on Thursday.

“Some will be doing it harder than others. It’s almost a perfect storm for some of our Sydney clubs as their licensed clubs have closed at the same time. A lot of the Sydney-based clubs are so reliant on leagues clubs funding so for this moment in time where their leagues clubs are closed and a big part of their revenues comes from those, as well as having the gates closed for membership and ticketing and sponsorship, as well as the TV money, it is a very, very difficult time.

“Our goal as we stand here today is to make sure all 16 come out the other end. As I said, it’s not going to be easy and there’s a lot of hard decisions being made.

“You just talked about the staff and I think that’s the part that everyone has the most difficulty accepting is the personal impact. We’ve got hundreds of staff at the NRL, many of them are just hard working men and women with families, children, mortgages and I had to look them all in the eye earlier this week too and it’s a very unpleasant experience, but it’s really the only choice we have and we’re not the only industry in this country who are doing it.

“There are literally hundreds and hundreds of businesses facing the same challenge and rugby league is no different.”

The NRL seemed desperate to continue amid the COVID-19 outbreak, before stricter travel measures in Australia saw it suspend its season.

Greenberg said the NRL would work to make sure it returns this year after productive talks with the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA).

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure there’s rugby league in 2020 on the field, whether that comes in June, July, August or even as late as September and we play through to Christmas,” he said.

“We’ve got to plan for each of those models and then we’ve got to also, most importantly, ensure the financial future of the game so that when we do come back, we’ve got enough money left and we can pay everyone accordingly.

“We’ve got to bunker down in this period, cut all our costs and that includes the players. We had some really good discussions with the players and all credit to [RLPA chief] Clint Newton and some of the senior players I spoke to yesterday, there wasn’t one of those players who were concerned about their own financial future. The primary concern that came through on that call was what are we going to do about the players from numbers 20 to 30 and how do we make sure they stay afloat during this six-month period? And I’ve got to tell you it was a nice, warming thing to hear that the players have got a view about their colleagues.”