'Doesn't seem fair': Star fumes over NRL pay cut disparity

Australian Associated Press
·7-min read
Pictured here, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and Wests Tigers centre Joey Leilua.
Joey Leilua thinks the NRL's executives like Todd Greenberg should take a bigger pay cut like the players. Pic: Getty

Wests Tigers centre Joey Leilua has taken a swipe at the NRL's head office, claiming executives aren't copping the same scale of pay cuts as players.

The Rugby League Players' Association was on Wednesday afternoon sorting through the finer details on a pay agreement with the NRL for the coronavirus stoppage.

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Players are then expected to again be consulted on the changes, which are likely to include a 75 per cent cut on remaining wages for the rest of the NRL year.

That figure does not take into account the five months of pay players have already received from November, meaning players will lose about 46 per cent of their contract value.

The NRL's executives have meanwhile taken a 25 per cent pay cut, with the company running on skeleton staff.

Chief executive Todd Greenberg could also take unpaid leave beyond that cut if required, although anger is mounting over the fact he’d only agreed to take a 25 percent pay cut.

"I don't understand, I thought they said we were all in this together," Leilua told Fox Sports.

"If the players have to agree to a 75 per cent cut, then why not the executives at headquarters as well.

"We're the players, without us there's no product. We understand it's tough times everywhere, but this doesn't seem fair."

Leilua said other players were asking the same question, particularly since the NRL’s chief executive is on a reported $1.5 million dollar salary.

While AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has agreed to match the players by taking 50 percent pay cut and Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle doing likewise, plenty of questions are being of the under-fire Greenberg.

On Wednesday evening it emerged that Greenberg was set to take the same pay cut as players, with a deal between the two parties in sight.

The finer details of the pay cuts were negotiated between the NRL and Rugby League Players Association on Wednesday afternoon, with amendments made to the retirement fund.

Players are expected to be consulted again on Thursday over the agreement, which will see a wage drop of around 75 per cent while no football is played.

A deal for the duration of the coronavirus suspension is then expected to be struck either that afternoon or on Friday.

After being paid the first five months of their salary in full since the start of November, it means players will receive around 54 per cent of their entire 2020 contract.

‘We are in this together’

Greenberg's salary will also be slashed as part of the announcement, in a bid to show the game is unified in its efforts to get through the crisis.

"I want to acknowledge the players for their co-operative and collaborative approach to these discussions," Greenberg said on Wednesday.

"As I have said from the beginning, we are in this together and so in the spirit of our partnership, I have offered to take the same salary deal as the players.

"To me, it is the best and most sincere way of reflecting my appreciation of the way these discussions have been handled. "

Greenberg's cut is believed to have been floated well before Leilua's spray, where the Samoan stared warned the NRL players were becoming increasingly frustrated.

Player payments ordinarily come completely out of club grants, however under a deal struck with the 16 clubs some of that will now come from the NRL's injury hardship fund.

Struggling clubs have also had to place several hundred staff on leave, in a bid to manage their finances through the crisis.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys told AAP on Sunday that Greenberg could take unpaid leave at some point, but there was a lot of work to be done before then.

"He's already indicated he is going to take a 25 per cent pay cut," V'landys said.

"But if worst comes to worst and we're months and this thing isn't done, he would have to.

"But at this stage he certainly won't be because there is a lot that's got to be done."

NRL’s grim reality check over ‘optimistic’ July 1 resumption

The NRL is desperate to get its competition back up and running as soon as possible, in order to salvage a season in danger of being completely wiped out.

V'landys has been steadfast in his desire to save the 2020 season in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Having initially ploughed through while while other competitions around the world were forced to suspend their leagues, the NRL eventually bowed to advice from their pandemic experts and called a halt to their own season - after just two rounds.

However, V'landys remains convinced the league can get back up and running by the start of July, despite expert opinion to the contrary.

"We're very optimistic about starting on the 1st of July," he told Fox Sports on Monday.

Pictured here, Melbourne Storm captain Cam Smith in action during the 2020 season.
It's hoped the NRL can resume as soon as July 1. Pic: Getty

"The figures are encouraging in the last few days on the infection rate. They're certainly nowhere near as much as our pandemic expert predicted.

"If that trend continues, that gives us two months to continue."

However, the NRL's pandemic expert, speaking under anonymity to Fairfax Media, said on Wednesday that it's far too early to say if a July 1 resumption is a realistic notion.

“It takes two to four weeks to see the impact of interventions in epidemics,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We won’t know until after the first week of April — until which time we will still be seeing the impact of travel bans — how it will progress from there.

“There is likely still community transmission we have not detected because of a restrictive testing policy.

“I think we can also see from the increasingly strict measures being implemented by the government that they, too, view the situation as serious based on the data and the expert advice they are getting and are placing protection of the community as the highest priority.”

with Yahoo Sport Staff