Rugby league great Phil Gould has warned he can’t see all 16 NRL clubs surviving the suspended season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All 16 clubs have woken to a new reality on Tuesday, with no football in the foreseeable future and a significant hit to their bottom line.
Several clubs made moves to stand down staff or place them on annual leave on Monday night, with no-one safe as the clubs searched for ways to save money.
The impact of the coronavirus on clubs who have previously walked the financial tightrope in the past could be dire.
Without games being played, there will be no gate takings, corporate boxes sold and a significant dip in merchandise sales.
Nine separate clubs also have links to leagues’ clubs, which were indefinitely closed from Monday due to new laws aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.
Sponsorships could also take a hit without games being played and a number of businesses doing it tough, while the NRL’s losses could also impact on grants.
And Gould, who most recently filled a role as general manager at Penrith, admitted he feared for several clubs’ futures.
“I can’t see every club surviving,” Gould told Nine’s 100% Footy.
“If this competition doesn’t get back on the field this year, and there is no broadcast income coming into the game, I don’t know how clubs are going to survive.
“Unless the criteria is so small next year to come into the competition, that they somehow find themselves in it.
“It depends what the funding arrangements are going forward. What the competition and salary cap looks like going forward.”
One hope for clubs is that franchises take a one-in, all-in approach, with Canberra coach Ricky Stuart confident all teams wanted to fight the issue together.
Costs could also be cut by a reduction in the salary cap, while NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said all clubs had to find a way to reset the cost base.
Chairman Peter V’landys was also adamant the game would do its utmost to ensure all 16 clubs got through the issue together.
“We will do our best to keep all our clubs viable,” V’landys said at Monday’s press conference.
“We’re a family, a rugby league family. When one needs help, we will support them.
“We will do everything in our power to ensure every single one of our clubs remains viable and exists.
“We have some pretty tough decisions, but the main objective is to keep everyone within our game viable.”