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The National Rugby League (NRL) today advised employees of plans to re-organise the business in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is part of a broader plan led by The Australian Rugby League Commission to ensure a sustainable long-term future for rugby league. 

The proposed re-organisation will make the NRL a more dynamic and simplified business which will service the needs of fans, the 16 Premiership Clubs, State Leagues, broadcasters and commercial partners in a new economy. 

The business will focus on 2 important strategic areas, a world class sports entertainment business and a governing body investing in participation and long-term connection to the community. The NRL will be divided into seven teams: 

  • Competitions
  • Partnerships
  • Fan Experience
  • Finance, Technology & Operations
  • Risk, Integrity & Performance
  • Brand, Media & Communications
  • Participation & Community

The proposed restructure will result in a 25 per cent reduction in roles across all levels. Overall the NRL is targeting an annual reduction in all expenditure by $50m per annum. 

Changes already announced to the NRL’s executive team, have seen executive numbers reduce from 11 members, prior to COVID, to 8 members post COVID.

NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the changes were vital to ensuring a more effective and efficient business in a post COVID economy. 

“Our business, like so many others, has been hit by a hurricane called COVID which caused substantial damage. Our strategy moving forward is to stabilise, renovate and grow,’’ he said. 

“In order to stabilise, we must secure revenues and reduce our expenses to ensure a strong foundation. Then we will renovate by considering ways to make our products more entertaining and dynamic for our fans. Finally, we will develop bold plans for growth, looking at new products, new markets and how we can grow the game internationally,’’ he said. 

“Our game is part of the sports entertainment industry and we are aiming to transform faster than others to remain competitive in a dynamic market.”

Mr Abdo said the pandemic would force difficult decisions to be made. 

“We will lose some very good people during this process. Talented people with a genuine love and passion for our game who have all contributed in some way. This is painful but necessary process to ensure we survive.  I have genuine empathy for all employees affected and we will listen to their feedback. Our game must remain strong for future generations. We all want to leave the game in a stronger position than we first joined the sport.”

Mr Abdo said he was confident rugby league would come out of COVID with strong foundations to re-build from.

“What has inspired me most during the pandemic is how our game has come together. We have shown what we can achieve when we work together. Rugby league, under the direction of the Commission, has led the way in Australian sport and I am confident we will continue to do so,’’ he said.

The NRL will consult with employees over the coming week about the restructure proposals.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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