Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reacted to the NRL’s controversial plan to restart its season next month as the code tries to find some sense of normality amid the coronavirus crisis.
The league was suspended after two rounds because of the global pandemic but has since announced a resumption date of May 28.
The bold call has split opinion. Some argue it’s a good thing the NRL is being aggressive in getting games back underway, while critics believe it’s far too soon to be making decisions about when sport will resume given the strict self-isolation and social distancing measures still in place.
There has also been confusion about whether the NRL has permission from the government and health authorities to resume. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said last week he hasn’t spoken to footy bosses in a month, while the NRL was adamant it had been in contact with the relevant bodies since then and had permission to restart its season.
Asked if the NRL’s proposal was a “bad look for the game” on The Today Show, Mr Morrison – a passionate Cronulla fan – praised the code for exploring possible solutions. However, he also delivered the message it would not receive any special treatment.
"I like the ambition. I like that they’re planning to try and get the show back on the road at least in some form,” Mr Morrison said.
“I like that they’ve got an ambitious date, but it will be subject to the health advice.
“There will be no special set of arrangements, the health advice is paramount and I’m sure they’ll comply with it.”
The NRL’s ideal road ahead looks very different to the AFL’s immediate future, which was dealt a blow on the weekend when Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a state of emergency would remain in place until May 11.
With 10 of the 18 AFL clubs based in Victoria, the extension of social distancing restrictions and border lockdowns affecting interstate clubs means they are unlikely to follow the NRL into action next month.
Players have been staying fit in isolation, preparing for whenever the season might resume.Source:AAP
Rugby league is bleeding money and needs to swing back into gear as soon as possible to ensure the code remains viable. It’s no secret much of the motivation for finding a way to ensure games are played is to avoid a financial catastrophe.
Later today Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V’landys will meet with Nine CEO Hugh Marks to thrash out their issues after the TV network launched a stunning attack on the league last week.
Nine, the free-to-air broadcaster of NRL games which provides huge amounts of revenue to head office, slammed the league for financial mismanagement and accused it of leaving the network out of discussions about what this year’s interrupted season would look like.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg rejected suggestions Nine had been excluded from talks about the new-look 2020 season, telling the Continuous Call Team on Sunday: “I’ve heard a couple of times that we have had no consultation with broadcasters. I can tell you categorically that’s not true.
“I have met with all three broadcasters in the past two weeks, and that includes Nine, Foxtel and (international rights holder) Sky TV.
“All of them have been in consultation with us the whole way through leading into these Project Apollo meetings and the concept of the structure of the tournament.”
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