NRL players dig in on salary cap stoush with Commission as code looks to slash costs

NRL players dig in on salary cap stoush with Commission as code looks to slash costs

There is another drama brewing between the NRL and its players who are at loggerheads over a range of cuts to player wages and entitlements.

Michael Carayannis , The Daily Telegraph
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September 11, 2020 4:59pm

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The NRL and its players are headed for another pay showdown with the parties about $16 million apart on a revised salary cap as the RLPA claims the game had shifted its proposal by “$10 million in a week”.

The RLPA have rejected the NRL’s plans to reduce the salary cap by 10 per cent for 2021 and 2022 as the game continues to readjust its spending because of the financial impact of COVID. Players’ wages were cut 20 per cent this year.

The RLPA wrote to its players on Thursday night declaring “negotiations are frustrating at times” and claimed head-office had changes its proposal by millions of dollars in a week in the message obtained by The Saturday Telegraph .

RLPA CEO Clint Newton. Picture: Dylan Robinson

“Disappointingly, the NRL’s proposal shifted $10 million within a week after we did not agree to their previous position but we just have to stay calm, patient and united as we navigate through these negotiations,” the message read. “Player leaders participated in discussions with the NRL this week and have been outstanding with their representation of the collective. We will continue to include player leaders throughout this process as this remains essential to securing the best and fairest deal for players.”

Privately the NRL have rejected the notion they moved their offer in just a week. Instead they have grown agitated by delays in the negotiation having put an offer to the RLPA early last month before resubmitting a new deal last Friday. A first offer was put to the RLPA in July with the NRL keen to push through a deal to give the game clarity going forward. The two parties had further talks on Friday and have committed to more talks next week.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the parties would continue to work towards finalising a deal.

“The commission and the NRL will always act in the best interests of the game,” Abdo said. “We have been engaging with the players association in a private and proactive manner for a number of months now. The players are incredibly important stakeholders in the game. We look forward to hopefully agreeing on a position as soon as possible to provide certainty for everyone.”

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo is looking to slash costs for the code. Picture. Phil Hillyard

The NRL and clubs want the salary cap to drop by 10 per cent but the RLPA have flatly rejected this in the message to players and are pushing for cut of up to 5 per cent cut. That means the parties are about $8 million per season apart in the salary cap alone.

“The 10 per cent is the NRL’s proposal at the moment,” the message said. “Our position is no more than (a) 5 per cent (cut). Clearly there is further negotiations that need to happen around this.

“We will keep you updated on negotiations as they progress but rest assured that we have not agreed to a 10 per cent reduction in player salaries.”

The groups have found common ground in roster sizes for next year which will remain at 30 plus two to four development players. Initially squads were to be cut by up to four spots. That should help the likes of off-contract players including Benji Marshall, Jordan Rapana, Kieran Foran, Aiden Tolman, Nathan Peats, Kevin Proctor and Danny Levi find clubs.

Tiger’s Benji Marshall is just one experienced player looking for a new club for 2021. Picture. Phil Hillyard

“This position has been tentatively agreed between the NRL and RLPA in negotiations and we had anticipated making a joint statement about it soon,” the message read. “It appears that someone at the NRL may have jumped the gun. That is annoying but the good news is that we have preserved as many contract positions as practically possible.

“Our ability to secure the best outcomes will always be linked to the united position of the playing group, and we ask you to continue to ignore any speculation that may be positioned by anyone outside of the RLPA.”

While the salary cap dominates headlines it is not the only cause for the RLPA’s concern. A host of benefits are also on the chopping block including $1 million worth of prize money – $400,000 of which went to the premiers – representative payments, wellbeing and education and the retirement account. Abdo is in the process of cutting $50 million from the game’s bottom line.

So Harvard degrees are being cut

How will Easts pay Cronk the rest of his salary ?

Hmmm let’s see, give up 10% of my say modest $200,000 contract for a year or 2 ( $20,000 a year), or go and try a labour’s job for $50,000 a year, if you can get one these days.

We are ALL in un-charted times with this pandenic, so surely a small cut in the salary is better than no salary at all…

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Surely your full salary is better than 90% of your salary. It’s not the players fault the NRL Administration has thrown away hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade.

The players are the product, they hold the power. They shouldn’t settle for a cent less than they’re owed, and won’t. They will prevail if they hold strong.

Greedy Fuggers,do they think about the fans and members who pay there wage

Something has to make way for the money if the players want it. The NRL can’t just create money from nothing.

The players are the product and without them there isn’t a game, sure. But without a game, there’s no players. What’re they going to do, become big names in the U.K.? Start their own league and pay themselves salaries equivalent to what they are getting now?

If the players won’t play, others will. The game will have less quality players, but the NRL will exist and in a year or two wages will go back up. Consider it a donation to keep the game alive.

These guys aren’t engineers. If Telstra falls over, they can get jobs at Optus or Vodafone. If the NRL falls over, that’s it.

They may have to freeze players wages for 2-3 years.
Are the NRL getting all of the deal money next season?

Are the proposed pay cuts across the board onto coaching, support, refereeing, administration and whatever else. I don’t necessarily mean a flat percentage but is the hurt being shared by all on the NRL payroll.

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The key issue is not what the club pay players

But what are the club grants

So if NRL grants drop due to covid induced cutbacks

Maybe a better rule change would be to reduce or remove the % of the cap a club must spend on players

Then you can keep everything else as is