If the season cannot resume by September it will be cancelled. Photo by Matt King/Getty Images.
If the season cannot resume by September it will be cancelled. Photo by Matt King/Getty Images.

NRL could turn to Christmas grand final

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys will explore a $500 million rescue package to save rugby league as the NRL moves to salvage its season with plans in place for a Christmas grand final.

The Courier-Mail can reveal V'landys told the 16 club chief executives at Tuesday's emergency conference that he could seek a redirection of funds from the NSW government's $1 billion stadiums construction in a bid to keep the code alive.

The ARLC chairman's latest plan comes as the NRL provided a ray of hope amid the COVID-19 saga, outlining a number of target dates to resume the 2020 premiership which was suspended two days ago.

D-Day for the NRL is September 1, with a recommencement of the premiership in spring giving the competition enough time to stage the grand final five days before Christmas on Sunday, December 20.

 

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A December decider would provide some festive cheer for rugby league fans and a code in crisis as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc across the globe.

In total, four return-to-play scenarios were put to the club CEOS with proposed kick-off dates for June 1, July 1, August 1 and September 1, depending on how quickly Australian society can recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

Should the NRL fail to resume before September 1, the 2020 season will be called off.

The NRL grand final could be forced back to December. Picture by Brett Costello.
The NRL grand final could be forced back to December. Picture by Brett Costello.

Club CEOs believe a June or July resumption is unlikely but V'landys believes there is time for a 15-game season starting in September, which would allow the NRL to host a Christmas grand final.

"If we kick off on September 1 we will go through until Christmas with a grand final on December 20," V'landys confirmed.

"We have put together a number of scenarios.

"If we can play on July 1, the season would look a lot better and we would have a lot more games we can play.

"If we play August 1, we lose another four rounds, so we're looking at how much it will cost us in lost revenue for each month we can't start."

Lauded as a visionary, V'landys is refusing to give up hope of rescuing rugby league from bankruptcy as he provided total transparency at the conference.

The delegation heard the NRL has $104 million in the bank. With heavy cost-cutting across the game, V'landys told club bosses the NRL could potentially hang on for six months depending on return-to-play forecasts.

But V'landys is armed with another financial strategy.

If the season cannot resume by September it will be cancelled. Photo by Matt King/Getty Images.
If the season cannot resume by September it will be cancelled. Photo by Matt King/Getty Images.

The ARLC chairman will investigate the NSW government's $1 billion facelift of ANZ and Allianz Stadiums and whether up to $500 million can be diverted from that deal to give the NRL crucial funds for survival.

In a major concern for the NRL, Channel 9 aren't playing ball. Broadcasters Foxtel and Nine are due to pay their combined quarterly broadcast fee of $90 million on April 1. However, Channel 9 are reluctant to pay another cent while the competition is in limbo. It is understood Fox are committed to providing some funding.

V'landys told the NRL 360 program on Monday night he will explore every financial option available - including borrowing funds from the banks - to keep the NRL afloat.

"I want to make sure we have a game when this is all over," he said.

"We have never faced a financial crisis like this and we will have to make some hard and tough decisions.

"We have a cashflow problem, we don't have as much resources as what we need, and we have to navigate through that.

"This is an Australian disaster and we are dealing with it the best way we can."

Originally published as NRL could turn to Christmas grand final


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