NRL clubs will receive just $2.5 million each from the governing body to survive the coronavirus crisis should the season fail to resume this year.
The ARL Commission (ARLC) on Monday guaranteed three months’ funding for clubs after the latest emergency meeting to battle the pandemic.
That includes two months’ pay for the players under a proposed 75 per cent pay cut if the rest of the season is wiped out.
The Rugby League Players’ Association, passing on the plan to players later on Monday, will meet the NRL again on Tuesday to finalise the deal.
The governing body last week informed clubs that it had enough funds to pay their monthly club grants of $1.2 million for the next three months.
Now, after meetings with the RLPA over the past week, it is understood all 480 players will get two months’ pay to last the next seven months.
Players are also likely to be able to dip into retirement funds, with each initially set to receive $12,750 in superannuation this year alone.
A quarter of the players’ pay will come from the game’s injury-hardship fund, while it is expected a tiered cut will be applied to protect minimum-wage players.
“That will then have to sustain the playing group if we were to have no more games for the remainder of the season,” RLPA chief executive Clint Newton said.
There is an ability to withdraw funds that’s connected to each individual from their retirement accounts.
“That’s also part of the detail that we’re looking to work through with the NRL around the guarantees of that money being available if or when players want it.”
That leaves the clubs with just $2.5 million each to survive until the competition resumes, with another smaller, one-off payment expected to arrive in July.
The NRL claims the total $40 million rescue package will be $6.4 million more than it had budgeted for this season.
The figures emerge after revelations that head office will make a 53 per cent reduction in operating costs and 25 per cent cut in executive salaries.
Ninety five per cent of NRL staff aren’t working during the shutdown.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys remained 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,” V’landys said.
“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.”
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 meeting.
The cap was expected to hit $9.9 million next year and $10 million in 2022 in the final year of the current broadcast deal.
“These measures will put the game in the best position to rebound strongly from the pandemic,” NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.