Refs to escape NRL cost-cutting measures

The NRL will cut 25 per cent of its workforce as it bids to combat the financial costs of COVID-19.
The NRL will cut 25 per cent of its workforce as it bids to combat the financial costs of COVID-19.

The NRL will cut 25 per cent of staff but has vowed further cuts to expenditure won't come from referees as the governing body looks to save $50 million.

Chief executive Andrew Abdo announced the business restructure in a teleconference to staff, who will meet with their direct managers this week to learn of their future.

It's understood several staff were told on Monday they are no longer required.

Adbo said the organisation would lose "some very good people during this process" as they count the cost of COVID-19.

"Talented people with a genuine love and passion for our game who have all contributed in some way," he said.

"This is a painful but necessary process to ensure we survive.

"I have genuine empathy for all employees affected and we will listen to their feedback."

The cuts will mean around 100 staff will lose their jobs, but it won't account for the $50 million the NRL needs to save.

A reduction in expenditure, including reducing consultant work and general spend with budget cuts,, will also ease the load.

It marks a massive scale down for the organisation that was on the brink of a catastrophic collapse when the competition shut down in March.

Already the NRL has made savings through the return of one on-field referee, scrapping the previous two-man system.

Smaller savings have been made recently through changes to the bunker system which has seen review officials cut from two to one.

And that's where the cuts to officials will end, assured head of football, Graham Annesely.

"Match officials are under a separate arrangement, we need them to control games... there will be no impact on our officiating department," he said on Monday.

"It's a difficult day for everyone in the building.

"We're not the only business going through this ... many closing their doors never to reopen and other major sports in this country have been through a similar process.

"We are devastated for many of our colleagues that will no longer have jobs.

"I've got two daughters who work in completely different industries who have both lost their jobs.

"I'm sure every one of us knows people that have been affected by this pandemic.

"Of all the things that rugby league throws up, if you said eight months ago that one of the things would be a global pandemic people would have laughed at the impact it can have.

"It's a difficult day in the industry but a difficult year for everyone in the world."

The restructure comes after the executive team was whittled from 11 to eight.

Chief operating officer Nick Weeks and chief of corporate affairs Liz Deegan were made redundant at the start of September, while former chief executive Todd Greenberg and chief financial officer Tony Crawford exited earlier this year.

The simplified system will see staff split into seven areas down from 10: competitions, partnerships, fan experience, finance, technology and operations, risk, integrity and performance, brand, media and communications and participation and community.

Annesley will remain head of competitions, with Jaymes Boland-Rudder taking over as head of partnerships, including government.

Alex Alderson (fan experience), Richard Gardham (finance), Eleni North (risk, integrity and performance) and Daniel Meers (communications) have been announced as the other new division managers.

Abdo said the cuts are necessary to stabilise the business before the NRL can look to rebuild with bold plans for growth into new markets.

The job cuts are expected to be finalised by Friday.

Australian Associated Press