Is this the end of NRL on Channel Nine? Network issues explosive statement slamming ‘bloated’ rugby league executives for ‘wasting hundreds of millions of dollars’
The Nine Network has launched a scathing attack on the NRL, accusing the league of mismanagement and breaking its lucrative broadcast deal.
The statement comes on the same day league central is expected to announce plans to resume its competition halted by the coronavirus.
‘At Nine we had hoped to work with the NRL on a solution to the issues facing rugby league in 2020, brought on so starkly by COVID-19,’ Nine said in a statement.
Pictured: NRL CEO Todd Greenberg on March 24. The Nine Network has accused the league of mismanagement and breaking its lucrative broadcast deal
‘But this health crisis in our community has highlighted the mismanagement of the code over many years.
‘Nine has invested hundreds of millions in this game over decades and we now find they have profoundly wasted those funds with very little to fall back on to support the clubs, the players and supporters.
‘In the past the NRL have had problems and we’ve bailed them out many times including a $50million loan to support clubs when the last contract was signed.’
‘It would now appear that much of that has been squandered by a bloated head office completely ignoring the needs of the clubs, players and supporters.’
The NRL suspended the season on March 23 as businesses across Australia closed their doors to stem the spread of COVID-19.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys warned the suspension of the NRL season could have a ‘catastrophic impact’ on the sport.
Pictured: The Brisbane Broncos and the South Sydney Rabbitohs play in front of an empty stadium during round two of the 2020 NRL season on March 20 – three days before the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic
He said in a March 15 press conference he would seek financial assistance from the federal government to ensure the code survives.
‘Our money will only last so long and once it’s extinguished we are in big trouble. An Australia without rugby league is not Australia,’ he said.
‘We are in battle-gear ready to go. This is an extraordinary scenario for rugby league and I will do whatever I need to do.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison a day later played down suggestions of a bailout, telling 2GB ‘the NRL is not high on the list at the moment’.