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The NRL is not in a great position financially to pay the salaries of players.
But, at least, it is not going to go broke.
The league’s executive committee met in Canberra this week and discussed how to balance the books and fund the sport in a way that minimises the impact of the ongoing climate crisis.
The NRL and the union are now in discussions on the best way forward, with the league hoping to complete an agreement on an extension of its existing contract with the union before the end of the year.
That deal will give it more time to meet its obligations to pay players, pay the union and maintain the health of the game.
The game has been at risk of going bankrupt for decades, and the league has had to pay millions in interest to creditors to keep it going.
Now, with climate change threatening to derail the game, it’s a moot point as to whether the NRL will continue to be a financially sustainable enterprise.
The only thing the NRL can rely on financially is the support of the AFL.
But with the AFL’s future in doubt, that might not be a viable option.
In the meantime, there’s no shortage of NRL players on social media asking for help.
The sport’s chief executive, Steve Sharp, tweeted this week: I am here to tell you that you are not alone.
#TheBureauOfPension is there for you.
If you can, we are here to help.
He also tweeted this: You are not going out of business.
I know this is tough for some, but I want to assure you that we are on your side.
The AFL and the NRL have had a falling out over a number of years, with Sharp accusing the league of not keeping up with players’ demands and not being transparent enough about what it paid to players.
Sharp is currently under investigation by the AFL for alleged financial misconduct and the commissioner, Michael Kroger, has threatened to sack him if he does not resign.
Sharp, however, has consistently maintained that he has done everything he can to support the league and keep it afloat.
“We’re on the same page on how to deliver on our obligations,” Sharp said.
“In the end, what matters most is what we do as a community and the way we build a community.”
But it is clear that a long-term financial settlement may not be possible, and a lack of agreement between the league, union and its players could spell the end for the sport.
There’s no doubt that the NRL is in a tough spot financially, given the climate and the looming economic crisis.
But there is also a growing sense that the game’s financial future is in doubt and the best option is to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Sharp and the AFL, which the game claims is not doing enough.