NRL's richest club 'fighting for survival' in 'surreal' crisis

Even wealthy clubs like the Broncos will find the financial impact of the season shutdown devastating. Pic: Getty

They may be the NRL's richest club but Brisbane admit even they face a fight for survival due to the coronavirus shutdown.

The Broncos appeared set to survive the pandemic with almost $15 million in the bank and reportedly amassing revenue of almost $52 million last year.

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However, Brisbane CEO Paul White revealed on Wednesday that he may be forced to remain at the club to help the NRL flagship rebuild after initially planning to leave at the end of 2020 - his 10th season at the helm.

White said the Broncos were in a better position than most clubs after launching pandemic contingency plans a month ago.

But he admitted the game's postponement had still hit the glamour club hard, with some staff on their $22 million payroll made redundant and others taking "large" salary cuts including himself and head coach Anthony Seibold.

"It is a really tough time for our industry. We are in a fight for our survival as a game, and for us as a club," White said.

"We certainly want to be around for season 2021 and we are looking at all scenarios."

Asked if he could guarantee the club's survival, White said: "The fortunate thing about our club is that we started planning and did some scenario testing for this probably four weeks ago.

"No one could have anticipated where this would start and finish and no one can now.

"At this point in time our club is in a strong position, bearing in mind that our business model is based on another 15 clubs participating and the NRL competition proceeding.

"But we have already taken some strong action and there will be more pain to come unfortunately for some wonderful people at our organisation.

"We want the competition to survive, so we are united as 16 clubs to take whatever measures are necessary for this competition to survive."

White had planned to leave at season's end but admitted he could extend his tenure to help the Broncos cope with the pandemic's fallout.

"I made the decision to make this year my last in the best interests of the club," he said.

"If I believe that me remaining for a period of time is what this club needs and the board gives an indication that they may like to see that happen I will make that decision at the time.

"But I am not going to tap out until I am satisfied that the club is back on its feet.

"I not giving you a definitive answer but I am not saying no either."

Meanwhile, Seibold backed White to steer the Broncos through the pandemic.

"We are not immune to the challenges that society faces at the moment," he told Fox League Mornings.

"It's a surreal feeling when you see the lines to Centrelink on the news.

"I am taking a significant pay cut. I think it is the least I can do. It's going to be challenging times for our staff.

"We are feeling financial pain but Paul is doing a fantastic job."

Expert casts doubt over 2020 season resuming

The biosecurity expert who advised the NRL to suspend the season has offered a grim outlook for the remainder of 2020.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald anonymously, she said she couldn’t see the season resuming this year.

“It’s the calm before the storm — but that storm is coming,” she said.

“What if one of your players gets sick and dies? Is it worth taking the risk of losing a player in the prime of their career?

“I think we will be dealing with this epidemic for the better part of this year. I’m really hoping we will have a vaccine next year.

“Then we can resume normal societal functions - like sport. But that won’t be any time this year.”

NRL sets deadline for restart of season

On Tuesday the NRL told clubs it has designed scenarios for the suspended competition to resume as late as September 1.

The governing body is also planning for possible start dates on June 1, July 1, and August 1, with any date later than September 1 seemingly not an option.

The details come following a meeting with all 16 clubs bosses on Tuesday, after the NRL season was suspended indefinitely on Monday due to the mounting coronavirus crisis.

A best-case restart in June would allow the NRL to complete all 25 rounds of its regular season, as well as the finals series, and a grand final in December.

The highly- lucrative State of Origin series could also be played prior to Christmas.

Clubs were also informed that they would receive their scheduled $1.2 million monthly payment next week.

The payments are also expected to be made in May and June, however it is unclear whether the league can continue cashflow from July onwards.

It is believed league officials will next meet with Rugby League Players Association to discuss the shutdown's impact on player payments.

With Yahoo Sport staff