The NRL has announced it will close its offices from Tuesday until at least 1 May, forcing hundreds of staff across all departments to take annual leave.
In a town hall meeting on Monday, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg told staff the game was determined to keep playing in the face of the growing coronavirus pandemic.
In the tense meeting at headquarters, employees were told departments would be working on skeleton staff until at least May. Staff will be allowed to go into negative annual leave.
Closing down the NRL offices and forcing employees to take leave are the latest cost-cutting manoeuvres from executives, who are desperately fighting to keep the game alive under “catastrophic” financial pressure.
It is understood Greenberg told employees it was all he could do to protect their livelihoods as the game edges closer to suspension of competition.
It comes as Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the state’s borders will be closed, most likely from midnight on Wednesday.
That move throws into doubt the NRL’s alternative plans to take all 16 teams to a central location in Queensland, or to continue to charter flights for travelling clubs all over Australia’s eastern states.
Queensland’s tighter border restrictions will impact those returning from holiday as well as interstate travel, which will directly affect the NRL’s ability to hold games in the state.
It is understood details will be finalised on Tuesday, with the NRL to push to have chartered flights excluded from the lockdown.
The NRL was expected to hold a press conference to outline their plan to continue the competition into round three on Monday, however it appears unlikely considering the rapidly developing nature of the crisis.
Earlier on Monday, Greenberg said he was confident the NRL season could still be completed should the mounting virus crisis force the code to suspend games.
“We’re very confident we could get the games on again but there’s a lot of unknowns on when that would come about,” Greenberg told Triple M.
“We’ve been confident all the way through that we can get through this difficult period and that means playing the games. If that means we have to go well into November and December, then so be it.”