NRL players will forgo five months’ worth of pay if the competition doesn’t restart in 2020 as the game grapples with how to deal with the coronavirus.
The NRL and Rugby League Players Association finally reached a deal late on Thursday night, meaning players will take a cut of around 71 per cent for the rest of the year.
Under the deal, they will receive a combined $24.6 million to last until the end of the normal contract cycle in November, with just over 75 per cent of it coming from club grants.
The rest will come from the liquidation of the injury hardship fund, while players will also have early access to the retirement account if they hit financial troubles.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg will also face the same cuts, under an agreement reached earlier this week.
“This is a difficult time for our game and the wider community and the challenges we face are immense and unprecedented,” Greenberg said.
The players understand the severity of the circumstances we face and have demonstrated their willingness to work with us to secure the best possible outcome to protect the long-term future of our game.
“I know it hasn’t been easy and I thank the RLPA and the playing group for their maturity, professionalism and diligence in helping us reach this solution.”
As part of the deal, the NRL will also resource the wellbeing and education space at each club to ensure players have any support required.
The RLPA will also have a seat at the table in any future salary cap decisions for when the game returns into next year and beyond, as well as in discussions on competition structure and scheduling.
The union will also be able to conduct a special purpose audit of the game’s current and future financial status.
“The coronavirus pandemic has placed the game and its people under huge pressure and players have assumed the responsibility, like many others, to ensure the future of our clubs and the NRL is protected,” RLPA boss Clint Newton said.
“Players will share in this pain while games are suspended and have done what was required to ensure the game’s short- and longer-term future.
“However, we want to be clear that this arrangement is based on the worst-case scenario, should we not get back on the field in 2020.”
The deal comes after the NRL and the 16 clubs agreed to a combined $40 million package on Monday which would help keep sides viable while matches are not being played.