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NRL 2020 Season Start Date Criticised By Channel 9

NRL 2020 Season Start Date Criticised By Channel 9

Following the NRL’s decision to restart the 2020 season on May 28, Channel 9, the competitions’ free to air broadcast rights holder, launched an attack on the league and its’ decision-making processes.

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) board member and head of the Project Apollo committee, Wayne Pearce, announced the NRL competition would continue at the end of May after getting approval from ARLC chairman, Peter V’landys.

This decision was immediately challenged by Channel 9, who reported through Nine News that the network is “seething” about being left out of the decision-making process and privately wants to renegotiate its $625 million broadcast deal with the NRL.

The Daily Telegraph reported Nine’s criticism was in an effort to force the NRL to abandon the 2020 season, which would allow the broadcaster to hold onto the majority of its $125 million per-season TV deal with the league.

The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie reported Nine believes NRL games played in empty stadiums, which would be required with a May 28 restart, are of less value to the broadcaster and they want to renegotiate a cheaper deal.

“Insiders claim the network wants less footy and therefore less financial outlay,” Ritchie said, discussing Nine’s criticism of the NRL, which also included a statement from the network about the league “squandering” millions of dollars with a “bloated” head office.

The comments from Nine have also reportedly forced the NRL to consider abandoning some of the recommendations from the Project Apollo committee, including a 15-round competition that would see all clubs play each other once before a final series begins.

The other proposal included splitting the 16 clubs into two conferences, where clubs would play seven rival teams twice, extending the season to 16 rounds, including the two rounds already completed.

With the announcement of the proposed return date of May 28, all 16 NRL coaches conducted a phone hook up to discuss the return date and preferred competition structure.

Sydney Roosters coach, Trent Robinson, who is on the NRL’s Project Apollo committee, told the coaches they could expect to play the remaining 13 clubs as well as extra rivalry games to complete the season before the finals series begins.

Another hitch in the plan is the current travel restrictions between New Zealand and Australia, which would force the New Zealand Warriors to quarantine for 14 days before they could start a ‘pre-season training camp’.

Brisbane coach, Anthony Seibold, told Fox Sports the proposed structure from Robinson is the likely decision, but the Warriors isolation could change the proposal.

“That’s obviously still to be determined but that’s the likely structure going forward,” Seibold said.

“We’re hoping that when the Warriors get out of isolation in Australia, that teams can start training in early May, that’s the intention,” he said.

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