NRL in dogfight to protect players’ golden egg
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys has come out swinging in support of NRL players, revealing he will look to cut more costs at League Central to avoid the $10 million salary cap being slashed next season.
Leading NRL club chief executives fear the NRL salary cap, currently $9.8 million, could be reduced by as much as $4 million in 2021 as rugby league looks to tighten its belt following the coronavirus pandemic.
The Rugby League Players Association is poised to agree to a final $24.5 million package which will see players receive their monthly wage for April and May, then no pay for the final five months of the NRL financial year.
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There is a view the NRL has no choice but to reduce the $9.9 million salary cap next season to keep the 16 clubs viable, but V'landys has other ideas, saying the code's greatest assets - the players - have suffered enough.
Asked if NRL players will face another round of pay cuts in 2021 as part of a salary cap shake-up, the ARLC chairman was unequivocal.
"I'm not saying the salary cap next year will be cut because I want the players to be last affected," V'landys told News Corp.
"I can't ask for more than what the players have given the game and I want to support them.
"If we can save expenses, then there may be no need to slash player wages next year.
"In my view, I want to back the players.
"It may happen that yes we do have to reduce the cap, but that will be last resort for me.
"I don't want to alarm the players and have them thinking they will lose more money next year.
"My preference is to cut expenses at the ARL and NRL ... and that's what I'll be doing."
Manly and Queensland skipper Daly Cherry-Evans led the inquisition during pay talks with the RLPA and NRL. He asked why players are facing major pay cuts of around 46 per cent over the 12-month pay cycle when the code's stars share in only 29.5 per cent of revenue.
The NRL spends a staggering $182 million on operational costs.
V'landys believes there is scope to trim the fat at NRL headquarters to insulate Cherry-Evans and NRL players from further cuts via a salary cap reduction.
"At this stage I want to cut the expenditure and if we achieve that, the salary cap will stay where it is," he said.
"Daly was good. He was asking questions and so he should.
"I don't think Daly was out of order, he was very good, he was very constructive with his thoughts. He simply wanted information before the RLPA makes decisions and that's entirely prudent.
"If I was making a decision, I would want to make one knowing all the facts and figures and I take my hat off to Daly and the professionalism of the players.
"The detail has to be worked out now. The players have been fantastic, they have co-operated and acted in good faith at all times. I can't speak more highly of them, they appreciate the challenges the game has gone through and acted selflessly through it.
"The cost structure was unsustainable and the ARL has to lead by example in cutting our expenses considerably.
"That work has already commenced, the executive are looking at (NRL) expenses ... it has to be reduced."
Originally published as NRL in dogfight to protect players' golden egg