NRL players will forego 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 three quarters 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.”
The cuts will be across the board, with players opting against a tiered system that would have seen percentages change based on a players’ income.
However the the players’ union will investigate whether those players can receive government support given they will go without pay from June.
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.
Further talks will also be had if the game resumes earlier, although hits are expected to be taken regardless due to lost games and likely stadium lockouts regardless.
“Like everyone else our players are impacted, particularly at the lower end,” RLPA boss Clint Newton said.
“But having secured the guarantee of two months’ wages as well as being able to draw down on the retirement accounts and securing private health insurance for them is critical for all players, not just those at the lower end.
“But particularly those at the lower end, we will work through a whole range of different things where we educate them, work with their agents and their clubs about different things they will be able to activate.”
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.