NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg believes teams propped up by their respective leagues clubs will be the hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis.
That list includes some of the code’s most storied franchises, led by Parramatta, Canterbury and Penrith.
There were initial fears that privately-owned clubs such as Manly and Gold Coast could suffer the most from the enforced suspension of the season.
But Greenberg had a different take on Fox League Mornings on Thursday.
“I actually think the clubs with the licensed clubs attached to them, despite them being some of our biggest clubs, they’re the most vulnerable,” Greenberg said.
“(Manly and Gold Coast) have access to private ownership, and so ultimately if it gets really dire, private ownership has the ability to help in its own way.
“But some of those licensed clubs, the big ones I’m talking about, who’ve been big parts of rugby league since its inception through to the NSWRL, they’re all in all sorts of financial stress now because they’re physically not open and can’t trade.”
Canberra on Thursday became the latest club to stand down their administration staff, with only those who had leave up their sleeve still being paid.
The Raiders football department will work through until the end of next month, but CEO Don Furner said they would then likely to be asked to go on leave.
Furner painted a grim picture of the Raiders’ financial position on Thursday, with the club closing the door on their new headquarters and all seven of their venues shut indefinitely.
“I’ve never hidden the fact our business is underpinned by the licensed clubs, of which we have seven,” Furner said.
“But they are all closed down and they are expected to be closed down for six months.
“Our revenue depends on games being played, broadcasting revenue, gate, sponsorship, merchandise sales and leagues club support.
“None of that is there at the moment.”
It comes after coaches Brad Arthur, Dean Pay, Paul Green, Adam O’Brien, Ivan Cleary and John Morris have already been stood down by their clubs.
They are just some of hundreds of combined staff across each club, and associating leagues establishments, to be sent home.
Some have even been forced into lining up for government handouts.
The Panthers alone own five licensed clubs and are bracing for a reported $40 million loss brought on by the shutdown of each of their premises.
It is believed 400 staff at Canterbury Leagues Club have also been stood down.
“They’ve had to lay off, on top of their football clubs stuff, hundreds and hundreds of staff that work in their leagues clubs,” Greenberg said.
“I have great concerns about how quickly we can get that back open.
“And none of us know the answer because ultimately we’re in the hands of the government and a much broader global crisis we’re about to face in our country.”
St George Illawarra are part privately owned and are so far yet to lay off staff, while Wests Tigers have also been unmoved given a lesser reliance on Ashfield Leagues.
Despite the dire circumstances, Greenberg said the governing body remain determined to ensure all 16 clubs will survive the death knell.
Talks with the players union continue over the prospect of pay cuts, and are expected to be resolved on Friday.
“Our goal is to make sure all 16 come out the other end so it’s not going to be easy and there’s a lot of hard decisions being made,” Greenberg said.