NRL clubs to feel pain of virus measures

More than half of the NRL's teams could feel a financial hit from the new coronavirus restrictions, with leagues clubs set to be affected.

NRL CEO TODD GREENBERG
NRL CEO TODD GREENBERG Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Several NRL clubs could feel the pinch of the coronavirus pandemic as the NRL prepares to make one of the biggest calls in the game's history.

The ARL Commission will on Monday determine the best way forward for the sport through the health crisis, just a day after the AFL announced it was suspending its season.

The NRL are determined to play on, and intend on continuing into round three next weekend unless they are told they cannot by government or health authorities.

They also acknowledge they stare down the barrel of a huge loss worth up to $500 million if the season is scrapped, or around $13 million per round lost in TV rights.

But more than half the clubs are now facing a challenge of their own following new government measures shutting clubs and pubs on Sunday night.

Nine NRL clubs are either owned by or have links to leagues clubs, and some rely on them for financial security most years.

That figure does not include Cronulla, whose leagues club is currently closed for two years for upgrades.

Clubs are already doing it tough throughout the crisis, with no gate receipts and an expected flow-on effect to membership and merchandise sales.

The NRL has already handed each club $425,000 in support, but it's anticipated further strain could be placed on sides - particularly if matches are lost.

The NRL has not had a game abandoned or skipped since the Super League war, and chairman Peter V'landys as well as chief executive Todd Greenberg are desperate to avoid the situation.

"At this stage, our intent is to play on and we remain committed to the continuation of the 2020 season as far as government advice allows it," Greenberg said.

"We have, and always will, stringently follow all government health advice and medical protocols to protect the health and safety of the community and our players.

"Our No.1 priority is to protect our players, staff and fans and we will continue to do this by adopting the strictest possible medical protocols.

"However, we understand the pace of the crisis is escalating rapidly and we need to remain flexible and conscious of community expectations."

The NRL could consider playing until as late as December 20 to ensure all matches are played.

Meanwhile taking the players to a base in North Queensland and playing several Magic Round style weekends there is also not yet out of the question.


AAP