“Much Has Been Squandered By A Bloated Head Office”: Nine Unleashes Stunning Attack On NRL

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 12: James Tedesco of the Roosters scores a try during the round nine NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Nine Network has unleashed a stunning attack on the National Rugby League, accusing the governing body of “mismanaging the game for years”.

The comments come as the NRL battles for survival amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which has temporarily halted the competition.

With the initial outbreak coinciding with the start of the 2020 season, the NRL appeared desperate to continue to play for as long as possible, to ensure it honoured the broadcast agreement is has with Nine, Foxtel and Telstra, which is worth around $200 million a year.

It has since been revealed that despite the multi-billion-dollar broadcast deal it has in place, the NRL has very little in the bank – meaning this pause in the competition has the game on the brink of collapse.

“At Nine we had hoped to work with the NRL on a solution to the issues facing rugby league in 2020, brought on so starkly by COVID-19,” Nine said, in a statement published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“But this health crisis in our community has highlighted the mismanagement of the code over many years. Nine has invested hundreds of millions in this game over decades and we now find they have profoundly wasted those funds with very little to fall back on to support the clubs, the players and supporters. In the past the NRL have had problems and we’ve bailed them out many times including a $50m loan to support clubs when the last contract was signed.

“It would now appear that much of that has been squandered by a bloated head office completely ignoring the needs of the clubs, players and supporters.”

It comes following reports the NRL will today sign-off on a plan to relaunch the season next month, with the competition expected to be shortened to 15-rounds.

Even with the rapid restart to the competition, players are expected to take a 71 per cent pay cut for the abridged season.

Nine’s comments raise serious questions over future broadcast deals.

The current deal – worth a total of $1.8 billion – is due to come to an end in 2022.

With negotiations for the next deal expected to get underway soon, there have been murmurs CBS-owned Network 10, which currently has minimal live sport, could swoop in and steal the rights from Nine.

However, these latest comments suggest Nine may not even be interested in coming to the table.


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