NRL Prepared To Offer Pay Proposal To Club Execs, But Cap Still A Sticking Point
The National Rugby League will have a proposal on player payments "to take to Thursday’s crunch meeting with the clubs," according to Paul Malone of the Brisbane COURIER-MAIL. NRL and Rugby League Players Association negotiators "wrapped up three days of talks about previous sticking points" in the collective bargaining agreement for the players. The NRL's recommendation from those talks must be approved by 75% of the 16 clubs -- "that is, five must not vote against it" -- for the NRL to "have authority to clinch a CBA agreement with the RLPA." The RLPA "was hopeful last week that agreement could loosely be achieved" because of the progress made toward the wages and conditions, but Wednesday’s developments "lent further optimism that a resolution to the pay dispute is near." The NRL did not respond "when asked if the salary cap amount to be taken to the clubs" was A$9.2M ($7.3M), a figure it "had indicated to clubs in April" (COURIER-MAIL, 8/16).
STIFF TEST: In Sydney, Brent Read reported the negotiating skills of NRL CEO Todd Greenberg "are about to face their sternest examination as club bosses prepare to wage war over the salary cap." The clubs "are split over the proposed cap" of A$9.2M for '18 and Greenberg was expected to "use a meeting of club powerbrokers in Sydney" on Thursday to "table a revised offer." The game "appears split down the middle over the issue, with a handful of clubs likely to hold the balance of power." As of Wednesday night, Canterbury reportedly "had the numbers to block a cap" of A$9.2M but "was short of the numbers required to endorse a higher figure." Similarly, the clubs "opposed to a significant increase in the cap had the numbers to block a change" in the A$9.2M figure, "but not the numbers to get that figure over the line." Hence, "the challenge facing Greenberg." One chair "summed up the feeling of those who are against an increase," saying, "I just have to say run the business properly and live or die by the sword of your decisions. They want to take A$4.8 million ($3.8M) a year -- nearly A$25 million ($19.8M) out of the game (over the next five years) -- because they can't run their businesses properly. I don't think so" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/17). In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko reported Melbourne Chair Bart Campbell "led the clubs in their battle" for funding equaling 130% of total player payments, "hailed as the stimulus required to ensure the financial future of all franchises." However, several clubs "are pushing for a cap increase that will effectively erode the margin between the money coming in and going out" at a time when the Brisbane Broncos "are the only business turning a profit." Campbell: "The cumulative losses of the NRL clubs last year was A$60 million, up from A$46 million the year before. Sixteen times A$3 million ($2.4M) is where the game breaks even. If clubs are not viable, they won't exist. Who will be left to employ the players?" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/16).