Fringe NRL players are at the forefront of a predicted percentage pay cut during the season’s suspension, chief executive Todd Greenberg says. Every club’s top-30 are expected to find out how much of a shave they will take when league officials and the players’ union finalise negotiations on Friday.
And while a percentage slice is likely to be applied, it is the lower-income earners on each club’s roster that is of most concern to the game’s stars. It is believed a tiered approach to salary cuts could be applied while the game remains in limbo due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The talks come as hundreds more club staff, including head coaches John Morris and Paul Green, were ordered to take paid and unpaid leave.
Speaking on Fox League Mornings, Greenberg spoke glowingly of how some of the league’s elite were looking out for teammates on the minimum wage. Rugby League Players Association president Cameron Smith was believed to be present in the meeting, as well as directors Daly Cherry-Evans and Wade Graham.
“There wasn’t one of those players who were concerned about their own financial future,” Greenberg said on Thursday. “The primary concern that came through on that call was, ‘What are we going to do about the players from numbers 20-30?’
“And, ‘How do we make sure they stay afloat during this six month period?’ It was a nice, warming thing to hear the players have that view around their colleagues.”
Greenberg went on to describe the important of the NRL and RLPA showing a united front in the midst of a global crisis hurting every corner of the world. He re-iterated how league central sent 95% of their employees home on leave for three weeks, while clubs are also working with skeleton staff.
When it comes to the players, there were suggestions they could take a 50% pay cut that would result in a combined $50m loss. Greenberg was reluctant to speculate on a figure.
“When we went into the agreement with the players, the first thing we said and the agreement we made is they will get a percentage of the revenue,” he said. “The players wanted to be genuine partners of the game, so they wanted to share in the game’s successes. So if the game does really well, they get a bigger slice.
“But in a genuine partnership, when the revenue goes down, you have to be aware that your percentage is going to drop with that. That’s the conversation we’re having with the players.”