Pay delay raises doubts over future of mid-season US Test

The future of the mid-season Test between England and New Zealand in the United States is in limbo with the NZRL and RFL still waiting on payment from the event promoter.

New Zealand players are expected to see the $5000 match fee in their bank accounts on Wednesday after the NZRL stumped up the cash. The NZRL will have to carry the $100,000 debt given Moore Sports haven't coughed up the agreed fee by the July 31 deadline.

The NZRL and the RFL signed a three-year agreement with Moore Sports International to play a Test on US soil until 2020, however it's understood there was a provision to review the agreement after the first year if there was a breach of contract.

"There's a three-year agreement afoot subject to review," NZRL chief executive Greg Peters told NRL.com.

"Commercially there are some challenges we want to work through with the promoter. We obviously want to be paid as soon as possible and we're working with Moore Sports for that to be achieved.

"The players have been paid and the two matters are not linked. The only hold-up in that was the US tax system and waiting on advice to get clarity around a correct position."

The NZRL is in a precarious position financially and having to carry a six-figure debt isn't helping its cause.

England and New Zealand walk onto Mile High Stadium.
England and New Zealand walk onto Mile High Stadium. ©photosport.co.nz

It is understood the Kiwi governing body has received part of the agreed payment but is still waiting on a large chunk of it.

While some Kiwi players were anxious about whether they would receive payment, NZRL officials insist the hold-up from Moore Sports wasn't related and they were simply working with the accountants to ensure they were compliant with the IRS withholding tax requirements.

While there has been plenty of resistance from the NRL and its clubs about the Denver Test, the new international calendar that was recently finalised in Singapore still provides the ability for England and New Zealand (or Australia for that matter) to continue playing a mid-season Test.

A West Coast destination like Los Angeles, San Francisco or San Diego would make more sense to the clubs and the governing body, however the financial uncertainty around Moore Sports has cast a doubt over the match altogether.

Moore Sports president and CEO, Jason Moore, recently partnered with US Olympic snowboarder Shaun White to bring Air + Style to Sydney – a snowboarding competition which was meant to feature headline music acts like Snow Patrol and Flo Rida.

He created a subsidiary company called Moore Snow Sports to bring a 16-storey ramp with imported snow to the Domain in Sydney on August 3 this year in the hope of replicating overseas events that have attracted crowds of 30,000.

Elliott Whitehead scores for England.
Elliott Whitehead scores for England. ©photosport.co.nz

However, Moore Snow Sports went into liquidation two weeks after the Denver Test and the company has been listed as "in liquidation" on the ASIC website.

The Air + Style event was subsequently cancelled and ticket holders were refunded.

NRL.com contacted Moore to comment on this article but he has not responded to those requests.