After a lengthy meeting between the NRL and the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA), it was revealed that their retirement fund is used for the league’s operational expenses for nearly three years.
The players are demanding to conduct investigations especially that they are experiencing massive pay cuts.
Former Queensland’s Billy Moore asked the NRL for transparency and to explain why the money was moved elsewhere.
‘Serious questions must be asked about the motivation to take the money. Why was the money taken out and used to run the game? That’s what it seems to have been used for. Why was that money needed? Obviously there’s an issue with the business model because you’re taking money out which is not yours to touch’, Moore stated
‘Also, this goes back to 2018 and 2019, why was this not noticed in the auditing and the annual reporting? Someone has let the players down by not auditing the books. I’m staggered by that, and what it does is it erodes one of the pillars of society – trust. We can’t trust the leaders in the game, and it’s opened a can of worms’, he added.
He also challenged the league for an honest conversation without any cloak and dagger. Moore also cleared that the explanation from the NRL will allow the players to move forward and find ways to improve the business model.
‘This can be seen as a positive, it’s a bright light in a dark place, and it will allow us to restructure the game quicker. It (the coronavirus pandemic) has shown us we need to wake up and stop living in fairyland’, Moore said.
The NRL is supposed to pay the RLPA $4.8 million every year and had not done since 2017. The league has reportedly been spending $181 million on operational costs annually, which is equivalent to $500,000 every day.
‘(Sunday’s meeting) was both productive and passionate, and that’s what we expect from players because they love their clubs and they love the game. They want to ensure we are protecting the future of the game and the 16 clubs. This type of discussion is something that the game has now committed to do more regularly’, RLPA boss Clint Newton said.
The players are expected to face a 75% pay cut from the remaining seven months of the contractual year. If the league will not resume anytime soon, all 480 contracted players have been guaranteed two months full pay.
It was also proposed to allow the players to receive the payments upfront or divide them up in instalments until November 1. However, this proposal is not yet officially accepted.
‘There was a fair level of disappointment from the players given the fact that some guys, if they were to want it right now, maybe impacted by it. That’s why the two months’ salary was obviously fundamental’, Newton said.
‘But then obviously ensuring that there are guarantees around them depositing those funds in, if and when we needed it, is obviously crucial’, he added.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that the stimulus package which includes $1,500 for those who are affected by the COV-19 will be paid through employers.
‘Having consulted with 30 of our top players and working through that (tiered) system, and given the government initiatives that are currently changing daily, we are going to be in a better position to understand how it impacts those guys at the lower level’, Newton stated.