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NRL cut operating costs by more than a third in wake of Coronavirus challenges

NRL cut operating costs by more than a third in wake of Coronavirus challenges
February 25, 2021

The NRL reduced its operating costs by more than $65 million over the last year as it reacted to disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to a Sydney Morning Herald report, despite the governing body saving more than a third of its previous operating costs due to cost cutting measures during the past financial year, it is still set to report a lost for its last 12 month reporting period to the end of October last year.

Figures due to be made public at the AGM of the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) on Friday (26th February), will reveal consolidated expenditure fell by $82.5 million to $444.4 million.

In the NRL’s financial report that was sent to clubs, reported by The Australian newspaper, revenue for 2020 was $420 million, compared to $5556 million the previous year while the operating deficit was $24 million against a surplus of $28 million in 2019.

With The Australian having obtained a copy of the expenditure report, it shows a total of $11.4 million in competition costs were marked as one-offs, that included charter and relocation costs of $4 million to organise the game in ‘secure bubbles’ during the pandemic. Recurring game costs came in at $19.7 million, down from $25.6 million the previous year.

Income from the State of Origin games was not logged in the year-ending period to the end of October, which would have improved the balance sheet. If revenue from the inter-state series been included, the ARLC would have posted a deficit of under $5 million

The core of the savings the NRL carved out were made through a reduction of staff at head office, cutbacks to staff salaries, streamlining its operations and cancelling events.

In January, the NRL and Rugby League Players Association agreed player salary reductions as part of ongoing measures to address the impact of the pandemic. The agreement cuts the club salary cap by 6%  this season, to $9 million down from $9.6 million in the original collective bargaining agreement. Next year, the cap will be $9.1 million, down from a planned $9.7 million.

The deal means each NRL club will save in the region of $600,000 per year on wages over the next two seasons, amounting to a total salary reduction across the league of just under $19 million.

The AFL reported a $23 million loss for the year in its financial results reported earlier this month.

Image: Cronulla take on the Canberra Raiders at Sunshine Coast Stadium during the 2020 NRL season. Credit: Sunshine Coast Council.

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