The Nine Network and the NRL are at crisis points over the future of the game, with Nine issuing an extraordinary broadside over the code’s “mismanagement.”
The NRL is about to sign off on a May season return date but has not properly consulted Nine.
A Nine spokesperson said: “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. 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 $50m 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.
“We now find ourselves with a contract that is unfulfilled by the code. We hoped we could talk through a long term plan.”
The NRL‘s ‘Project Apollo’ committee was meeting on Thursday to further discuss relaunch plans. A 15-round competition (with two rounds already played) has been touted, with a May 21 restart.
But there has been speculation for months of CEO Todd Greenberg losing his job in a new era for the Australian Rugby League Commission, headed by powerful chairman Peter V’landys.
The stoush leaves the NRL’s $1.8 billion broadcast deal hanging by a thread.
Nine reportedly wants to renegotiate the deal, which extends through to the end of the 2022 season, on the grounds that games played in empty stadiums during coronavirus restrictions are not as valuable to TV networks.