South Sydney football boss Shane Richardson hopes the NRL’s postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic forces the league to recalibrate funding, saying it is currently “not a workable business model”.
Richardson said clubs and players were paid too much and that the NRL would need to cut funding by “at least 25 per cent” across the board to ensure the sport’s future in the next 18 months.
Richardson spoke out after an emergency meeting with all 16 club bosses on Tuesday with ARLC chairman Peter V’landys to discuss the fallout over the decision to postpone the 2020 season due to the health crisis.
Richardson was hopeful the season would resume after clubs were told of possible start dates at the beginning of June, July and August and as late as September 1, with a possible grand final just before Christmas.
But Richardson hoped the powers that be used the postponement to reassess club funding going forward.
“What we have to do now is make some sensible decisions to recalibrate the game, how do we disperse the money and cut back the overheads and ridiculous money that has been spent over the last period of time,” he told Fox League.
“We have a wonderful opportunity because of this to recalibrate players’ wages, to recalibrate the way clubs are running which is not successful because like it or not …. four clubs only are making a profit now.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to take the game to the next level.”
Richardson said he tried to call for change in 2017 before the NRL and players union (RLPA) announced a historic Collective Bargaining Agreement that delivered a $980 million deal for players – the biggest in the game’s history.
“I am not involved in CBA discussions but over the next 18 months this game needs at least a minimum of 25 per cent cut across the board,” Richardson said.
“Tough decisions have to be made because the game can’t sustain the wages of the football departments and the players’ payments as it is now – it is not a workable business model.
“(In 2017) we capitulated, we showed plastic balls and made decisions based on pressure from clubs and players.
“This is a chance to start again. We want to stop the bleed.”
The likes of Manly, Gold Coast Titans and the Warriors are expected to be hardest hit by the postponement.
V’landys informed clubs that they would receive their scheduled $1.2-million monthly payment next week with more expected in May and June.
However it is unclear whether the league can continue the cashflow from July.
It is understood the game has around $150 million in reserves but it could lose roughly $500 million should the entire season be cancelled.
Richardson did not believe a 16 team competition was the ideal NRL model but stopped short of clubs being culled.
“I am not advocating to get rid of clubs,” he said.
“What I am saying is what is the business model?
“At the end of the day the player payments and football departments are a major part of the business.
“Unless they are brought down there is no chance of us going forward in the next 18 months.”