South Sydney Rabbitohs general manager of football Shane Richardson has resigned to help the NRL club’s financial position amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The NRL and its clubs are under financial pressure after its season was suspended on Monday due to coronavirus.

Richardson, who has been with the Rabbitohs for 16 years including as CEO, resigned to help the club, although he will still be a consultant.

“In times like these, leaders have to step forward and lead,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

“When we were reviewing things with Blake [Solly, Rabbitohs CEO] early in the week, it became very clear to me on Tuesday that I needed to step down. The cost of having me remain in the football department was one of our largest costs and as a club we need to cut the cloth to suit the suit.

“I made the decision on my own, it’s my decision, and then I informed Blake, the board and Russell [Crowe]. No-one pushed me into this decision. It became very obvious to me that this was a decision that needed to be made for the next 18 months for the club.

“I’ll remain on as a consultant to the club to assist in different areas where they see the need and this will be a part-time arrangement.”

Rabbitohs chairman Nick Pappas lauded Richardson’s contribution at the NRL club.

“Shane has been the heart of the Rabbitohs for the past 16 years and he has offered great service to the club throughout this period,” he said.

“He has seen the club rise from the very bottom to the very top, as is evidenced by our premiership victory in 2014.

“We owe him a debt of gratitude for his commitment to the club over an extended period of time and we look forward to his wise counsel through the consultancy arrangement we have reached with him.

“We offer our best wishes to both Shane and his wife Kate and we look forward to seeing them at a game in the not too distant future.”

The NRL season was suspended after two rounds, with the Rabbitohs sitting eighth.