Peter V’landys’ tone deaf cash grab for government money in wake of coronavirus


V’landys talked about the game only having months to live if fan lockouts continued, or even worse if it was indefinitely suspended.

“The last resort for us is to go to the players and ask them for a pay cut because, like the rest of us, they’ve got mortgages and made commitments on the money they believe they’re going to get,” he said.

The room cringed. Twitter was broken. Will someone think of the footballers?!

Rugby league’s great unwashed probably don’t care how players on an average wage of $371,000-a-year are going to battle through this. Or if the best-paid players on $1 million might have to sell off that fourth investment property they snapped up when the market was right.

And if Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s icy response at a media conference late on Sunday when asked about V’landys comments is any indication, he’s also not big on the idea of bailing out rugby league.

He’s probably more concerned right now about having enough ICU beds if this thing keeps spreading, and people start dying, at the same pace as seen in other parts of the world.

V’landys is calling from the same playbook he used in 2007 when equine influenza ripped through the racing industry, stopping meetings across the country but predominantly in NSW and Queensland.

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg yesterday.Credit:AAP

In his role as Racing NSW chief executive, he walked into then Prime Minister John Howard’s office, asked for a $110m rescue package — and ended up with $235m.

“That was an apprenticeship,” V’landys quipped at Sunday morning’s media conference. “This is like starting the trade.”

How much does he want from Morrison for rugby league, then?

“I usually start at $500m and work my way down,” he quipped again.

V’landys later confirmed he hadn’t spoken to Morrison, or NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, or any government official for that matter, which means he was using the media to lobby for funds.

That raises the suspicion that the NRL is more concerned with its financial health than preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Almost everyone has an opinion on solutions, of course, from suspending the premiership for a month and getting rid of the Kangaroo tour at the end of the year, to playing every match out of the one venue for the foreseeable future.

One day, Souths coach Wayne Bennett said he wanted the comp suspended. The next, he wanted matches in Darwin and Townsville. Which one is it, supercoach?

Another suggestion that’s been tossed about among government bureaucrats is diverting the $800m about to be spent on refurbishing ANZ Stadium to rugby league, rugby, football and other sports. Could it be that easy?

“There’s a lot of uncertainty around the happenings, and I suppose the goings-on, of the coronavirus,” Corey Parker mused on Fox Sports before Penrith hosted the Roosters.

The question is how rugby league became this vulnerable at all.

Pretty much sums it up, really.

Later in the day, V’landys wanted to clarify his position: he was talking about the entire rugby league industry, not just the professionals.

Loading

As the most-watched sport in Australia, which generates an estimated $2 billion for the economy each year, it would indeed devastate a lot of people — both financially and emotionally — if rugby league faceplanted.

V’landys might be rough around the edges, he might have a tin ear, he might curiously refer to the code as “rugba league”, but the game is fortunate to have a combative operator at a time when it needs one.

The game relies on $13 million per round from the broadcasters. If that stops, for even a few months, the NRL will struggle to get going again.

He just needs to play it smarter.

The question is how rugby league became this vulnerable at all.

For many years now, even long before the commission was formed in 2012, savvy club bosses were pleading with head office to start putting about $100m away for a rainy day.

As one blasted down the line on Sunday: “Well, it’s f—– pouring now!”

Most Viewed in Sport

Loading



Rugby

Related posts

Make a comment