Panthers CEO fears for players amid crisis

Penrith CEO Brian Fletcher says he fears for NRL players after they were offered two months pay potentially to last the rest of the season due to the pandemic.

Penrith Panthers at Redfern Oval in Sydney, Australia.
Penrith Panthers at Redfern Oval in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

Penrith CEO Brian Fletcher says he "couldn't hope for anything better" after rugby league's governing body only guaranteed three months funding for NRL clubs amid the coronavirus crisis.

But Fletcher admitted he feared for the players' future after they were offered two months pay under a proposed 75 per cent cut if the rest of the season was called off due to the pandemic.

Asked about the ARL Commission's decision to offer monthly club grants of $1.2 million for the next three months only, Fletcher told Sky Sports Radio: "You couldn't hope for anything better because that's all they had.

"It's a good result short term but the problem that worries me is what about long term."

Fletcher felt for the game's 480 players who will get two months pay potentially to last the next six months.

The Rugby League Players Association, who passed on the plan to players later on Monday, will meet the NRL again on Tuesday to finalise the deal.

"The players get April's payment and then they get one more month for the rest of the year," Fletcher said.

"All of the footballers, you wouldn't say they are the best savers in the world.

"How do they get through four or five months? I worry about them.

"That's why we need to be back playing even behind closed doors so our broadcasters have got a product ... (and) they (players) can get something they can survive on."

Fletcher backed ARLC chairman Peter V'landys' optimism that the competition could return by July.

"I have known Peter a long time through racing. I wouldn't be surprised if we started on July 1, only because Peter is leading the charge," he said.

However, Fletcher admitted players face another potential headache when the competition resumes, saying all contracts may have to be renegotiated.

"It will all have to be on the table," he said.

"If the broadcast deal is not what it is at the moment and the money trickling down from the top is a lot less then naturally everything has to be revised, the contracts have got to be revised.

"It would be a pretty long process I would say."


AAP