NRL broadcasters agree to May return

Despite Channel 9’s reluctance, NRL’s broadcast partners have agreed to the May 28th restart date.

As first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, Channel 9 has softened its stance and will support the NRL in its endeavours to resume the season in five weeks. However, the NRL is not expected to confirm the competition’s structure until early next week.

“The meeting was extremely amicable,” ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys said.

“We are all united that the 28th of May will be our starting date. The meeting was a very positive one and we now have a starting date, but the length of season will be confirmed next week.”

Meanwhile, State of Origin is reportedly going to be played at the end of the NRL season, pending consultation with the RLPA, states and clubs.

NRL expect to confirm competition structure early next week. V'landys describes today's broadcaster meetings with Nine and Fox as "positive" and "amicable". All parties have confirmed they want May 28 as the planned start date. #NRL. Story coming soon on @AAPNewswire

The broadcasters and Peter V'landys have agreed May 28 is starting date. The schedule will be confirmed after they know more about other sporting events, such as the T20 World Cup. Indicates it will run longer than 17 weeks but yet to be confirmed

Although a season length between 17 and 22 rounds have been discussed, it’s believed Nine was pushing for a shorter season, with each team playing each other once plus some rivalry games. Foxtel likely wanted a longer season, which could run for up to 22 rounds before finals.

V’landys told Channel 9 this morning he wanted the NRL season length sorted by today and that it was time for procrastinating in talks with broadcasters to stop.

Just 12 hours after Nine fired another shot at the sport and said claims of a definite May 28 return were “premature”, V’landys went on the network to launch an impassioned defence.

The ARL Commission chairman insisted the game could return, and backed biosecurity measures that will be handed to clubs on Friday. But he said he wanted the season structure sorted immediately, after almost two weeks of talks with Nine and Foxtel.

“We’ve got two different broadcasters. One has a different view to the other,” V’landys told the Today Show this morning.

“Today is D-Day for me. A decision will be made as to the length of the season, between the two broadcasters.

“We will meet our contractual obligations to the broadcasters, but a decision has to be made.

“I think the procrastination has been taking long enough, and decisions will be made today.”

NRL Commissioner Peter V’landys pictured outside Racing NSW.Source:News Corp Australia

V’landys also shot down claims the game was not on track for its return, accusing any of the sport’s detractors as “scaremongering”.

Nine claimed on Thursday night it was premature to be confirming a return date, noting a structure still had to be locked in as well as health and safety standards.

The game’s return has also split public opinion, after the NSW Government said the sport could come back as long as it provided a safe workplace for players.

V’landys has claimed the biosecurity rules placed around the game will be the benchmark for all sports during the pandemic.

He is also insistent players will be safer when placed under the new rules than they are now, with no players contracting the virus while the competition has been on hold.

“Look, we have done our negotiation with governments,” V’landys said. “We are applying to governments. We are applying to governments. We’ll continue to do so.

“It’s five weeks away. In the last 14 days, our infection rate has been less than one per cent. We are confident that it’s safe.

“The risk is minimal to zero. So why shouldn’t we start playing? Why are we going to rob our fans and players, because of scaremongering and alarmist rhetoric?”

With AAP

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