Nine, NRL make progress to restart 2020 season

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 15 April 2020
NRL 2019 Premiers The Sydney Roosters

The NRL’s proposed restart to the 2020 season looks a bit firmer following a meeting with the sports administrator and Nine boss Hugh Marks.

The remainder of the competition was in doubt after Nine attacked the NRL for how it handled negotiations to restart the game which was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, after meeting with Marks, ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys says he is “buoyed” by the support from the broadcaster, with a restart date proposed by the NRL for May 28.

"Today Nine CEO Hugh Marks and I had a constructive and co-operative meeting about rugby league in 2020 and beyond,” V’landys says.

“I am buoyed by Mr Marks’ support of rugby league and his commitment to the game.

"The meeting provided us with the opportunity to outline our positions and discuss next steps to navigate this crisis.

"We are both focused on the long-term success of the game and while there is more work to do, I am optimistic we will find a way through this together.”

Details on how the 2020 season will be structured won’t be finalised until they’ve been discussed with the game’s broadcast partners Nine and Fox Sports.

"Our next meeting, where we will endeavour to construct a road map for the game this year, must include Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany,” V’landys says.

The announcement comes after Nine publicly attacked the NRL over its handling of the crisis, saying it revealed 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,” said a Nine spokesperson.

“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.”

Nine, which has the rights to the game alongside Fox Sports until 2022, previously outlined in a statement to the ASX that it would save $130 million if the season is cancelled this year.

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