The main sticking point in discussions is around the retirement fund, with the RLPA seeking a guarantee and explanation on how the NRL plans to stump up the $10 million and when it will be in the fund.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, the NRL isn’t required to have the funds available until the end of the broadcast cycle (2022), but the RLPA wants the fund topped up with the $10 million it has accumulated since 2018 as soon as possible.
The fund, which contains about $20 million at the moment, will be available for players who want to draw down on their entitlements in the coming months to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s understood the NRL sought permission from the RLPA to draw from the retirement fund in 2017, when it was used to alleviate the code’s cash-flow issues between broadcast cycles.
The RLPA later raised the retirement fund allocation, however discussions were put on a backburner as the game dealt with the ramifications of the no-fault stand-down policy introduced by the ARL Commission.
The other concern for the RLPA is how the NRL intends to pay its players from November 1 (the start of the next rugby league financial year) if there are no more games in 2020. Next season’s first broadcast payments are not due until January.
There has been speculation the salary cap could be drastically reduced in 2021, but RLPA chief Clint Newton said that may not necessarily be the case.
“The most important thing right now is the broadcast deal has been secured,” Newton said. “Next year hasn’t been impacted at the moment by the coronavirus. Around 65 per cent of the game’s revenue is generated around broadcast, which equates to about $350 million or whatever. We know there may be a downturn in additional revenues through sponsorship and whatnot.
“As far as the whole amount is concerned, we need to have a good understanding of what is coming in and what is the players’ share of that. At the moment, to the best of our knowledge, next year’s broadcast isn’t affected.”
Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.