The Nine Network has launched a stinging attack on the NRL, accusing the league of mismanagement and breaking its lucrative broadcast deal.
It is understood the network is angry at being left out of discussions on what the season would look like should it recommence.
The code’s long-time free-to-air broadcaster took aim at NRL’s financial management, which has left clubs and players facing uncertain futures.
“At Nine we had hoped to work with the NRL on a solution to the issues facing rugby league in 2020, brought on so starkly by COVID-19,” the statement read.
“But this health crisis in our community has highlighted the mismanagement of the code over many years.”
The statement comes on the same day league central is expected to announce plans to resume its competition halted by the coronavirus.
NRL chairman Peter V’landys is said to be hopeful of a May 21 return.
The comments also come after weeks of speculation surrounding the future of current NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg.
Mr Greenberg is currently in the final year of his contract.
The Nine Network has accused the NRL of ‘profoundly wasting money’ and ‘mismanagement of the code’, on the day the competition was supposed to announce a return. @Danny_Weidler #9News pic.twitter.com/vZyvEbnSVj
— Nine News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) April 9, 2020
“Nine has invested hundreds of millions in this game over decades and we now find they have profoundly wasted those funds with very little to fall back on to support the clubs, the players and supporters,” the statement continued.
“In the past the NRL have had problems and we’ve bailed them out many times, including a $50m loan to support clubs when the last contract was signed.
“It would now appear that much of that has been squandered by a bloated head office completely ignoring the needs of the clubs, players and supporters.
“We now find ourselves with a contract that is unfulfilled by the code. We hoped we could talk through a long-term plan.”
Nine chief executive Hugh Marks has previously told the NRL that games played behind closed doors are of reduced value and the media company wants to negotiate a new contract with the code.