The NRL has been forced to take drastic action in an attempt to start rebuilding the league after COVID-19 left a $130 million hole.
The NRL has been forced to take drastic action in an attempt to start rebuilding the league after COVID-19 left a $130 million hole.

Dark day as NRL rocked by $130m blow

The coronavirus lockdown has taken a heavy toll on the NRL, with the league announcing 25 per cent of its staff will be stood down over the coming days.

As first revealed by The Sydney Morning Herald's Michael Chammas, the NRL has been forced to implement a significant business restructure after estimating a $130 million loss this year.

According to the report, it will take approximately two years for the league to recover from the financial setback.

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NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo informed the staff of the upcoming redundancies in a virtual call on Monday morning.

The NRL released a statement explaining the reasoning behind the mass staff cull, revealing the league is targeting an annual reduction in expenditure by $50 million per annum.

"The National Rugby League today advised employees of plans to reorganise the business in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement read.

"This is part of a broader plan led by The Australian Rugby League Commission to ensure a sustainable long-term future for rugby league.

"The proposed reorganisation will make the NRL a more dynamic and simplified business which will service the needs of fans, the 16 Premiership Clubs, State Leagues, broadcasters and commercial partners in a new economy.

"The proposed restructure will result in a 25 per cent reduction in roles across all levels.

"Changes already announced to the NRL's executive team, have seen executive numbers reduce from 11 members, prior to COVID, to 8 members post COVID."

Earlier this month, the NRL stood down chief operating officer Nick Weeks and chief of corporate affairs Liz Deegan.

Abdo confirmed the "painful" decision was instigated by the coronavirus pandemic, but was confident the NRL could rebuild over the coming years.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo.

"Our business, like so many others, has been hit by a hurricane called COVID which caused substantial damage. Our strategy moving forward is to stabilise, renovate and grow,'' Abdo said in a statement.

"In order to stabilise, we must secure revenues and reduce our expenses to ensure a strong foundation. Then we will renovate by considering ways to make our products more entertaining and dynamic for our fans. Finally, we will develop bold plans for growth, looking at new products, new markets and how we can grow the game internationally.

"Our game is part of the sports entertainment industry and we are aiming to transform faster than others to remain competitive in a dynamic market.

"We will lose some very good people during this process. Talented people with a genuine love and passion for our game who have all contributed in some way. This is painful but necessary process to ensure we survive. I have genuine empathy for all employees affected and we will listen to their feedback. Our game must remain strong for future generations. We all want to leave the game in a stronger position than we first joined the sport.

"What has inspired me most during the pandemic is how our game has come together. We have shown what we can achieve when we work together. Rugby league, under the direction of the Commission, has led the way in Australian sport and I am confident we will continue to do so."

Earlier this month, Abdo was named the new NRL chief executive after serving in an interim role since April when Todd Greenberg left his post.

 

Originally published as Dark day as NRL rocked by $130m blow



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