NRL players have been asked to take a pay cut of up to 87 per cent as the league begins to brace for the doomsday scenario of a lost season.
The Rugby League Players Association board will meet on Thursday night to discuss their response after being handed the worst-case option on Wednesday.
Both the league and the players’ union are due to convene again on Friday, when it’s hoped a deal will be finalised to give the game a clearer picture of its future.
The development follows advice from the NRL’s pandemic expert this week that the 2020 season will be a complete wipeout.
That scenario could leave several clubs in a dire financial position with questions raised over whether all 16 clubs would survive into 2021.
No figure has yet been agreed to and the union were on Thursday seeking further clarity over the NRL’s allocation of funds and outgoings over the coming months.
The situation would likely change if the competition starts earlier, but the parties are working on a worst-case scenario and are going backwards from there.
Any deal would likely come into effect until the end of this year’s season, with players having already been paid 40 per cent of their annual salary.
A tiered system of player cuts remains the highest priority for both the NRL and RLPA, shielding minimum-wage players from having next to no income.
Regardless, the pay cut would affect up to 500 NRL players and their families.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said minimising the damage to fringe players during the shutdown had been the chief concern for the players.
“There wasn’t one of those players who were concerned about their own financial future,” Greenberg said of the game’s elite players on Thursday’s Fox League Mornings.
“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 per cent of their employees home on leave for three weeks, while clubs are also working with skeleton staff.
“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.”