COVID-19 hasn't impacted '21 cap yet: RLPA

Former NRL chairman John Grant (r) with Fox Sports CEO Patrick Delany after the 2018 broadcast deal.
Former NRL chairman John Grant (r) with Fox Sports CEO Patrick Delany after the 2018 broadcast deal.

The NRL players union concedes that the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic could change the game - and with it next year's $9.9 million salary cap.

But, as Rugby League Players Association Clint Newton points out for his members, it hasn't impacted next year's broadcast deal yet.

Newton's comments come after suggestions next year's cap could be reduced by 40 per cent to just $5.9 million.

The RLPA and league office are on Wednesday expected to finalise a pay deal for the players should the COVID-19 wipe out the rest of the season.

The game's enforced shutdown has exposed the league's financial shortcomings, raising serious questions over the future allocation of its revenue.

And that includes the current broadcast arrangements, which in 2021 go into the fourth year of a five-year deal worth $1.8 billion.

"The most important thing is that right now, the broadcast agreement is secured. Next year hasn't been impacted at the moment by the coronavirus," Newton said.

"Ultimately we know around 65 per cent of the game's revenue is generated through broadcast, which equates to about $350 million or whatever."

However Newton admits the virus' impact could result in other consequences.

"We know that there might be a downturn in other additional revenues through sponsorship and whatnot," he said.

"As far as the whole amount is concerned, we just need to be able to have a good understanding of what's coming in and what is the players' share of that."

It's why the union is currently fighting for full access to the game's finances, in a bid to have a greater say in how the funds are allocated.

Newton suggested some operational costs could be redistributed to clubland.

"They might be able to pick up a greater level of responsibility," he said.

"So therefore their funding might increase and the game might not have to hold as much at the centre. So that's all part of the process from here.

"I think we've got a really good opportunity to deconstruct their current model and look at how we might be able to better utilise some of the funds."

Australian Associated Press