Escape plan: Wallabies stars could spark devastating exodus

Leading Wallabies stars will seek escape clauses from their contracts as part of the pay-cut deal with Rugby Australia, so concerned are they regarding the game's finances.

Players' union RUPA is now assessing key financial documents through a qualified adviser, but an agreement about how much the athletes will sacrifice over the next three months appears to be some way off.

There are questions about how solvent rugby will be in July and beyond that, with no broadcast deal in place for 2021.

Those players on lucrative long-term deals, signed when there were no concerns about RA's capacity to pay the full terms, are now worried that if RA goes broke, they'll be left in the lurch.

Watch Bledisloe Cup Classics with Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your free trial and start streaming instantly >

 

 

Changing the terms of pay on their contracts does not mean all other aspects of the paperwork are negotiable.

Instead, specific clauses will need to be included to allow players to head overseas if they fear RA faces insolvency and are offered deals by foreign clubs later this year.

While RA has $11 million in reserves and has stood down 75 per cent of its staff, there is no guarantee of earnings beyond July, by which time that money will be largely spent.

The COVID-19 crisis has put a halt to all games, which has stopped broadcaster Fox Sports paying money to RA given the lack of content.

With no broadcast money and ticket sales to bank, RA is reliant on the wage savings and sponsors continuing to pay their bills to stay afloat.

The longer the pay-cut dispute with players drags on, the more vulnerable the game is.

 

Embattled RA CEO Raelene Castle. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty
Embattled RA CEO Raelene Castle. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty

 

RA forks out around $100,000 a day on the wages of its 192 professional players, so are eager to have the matter sorted within days.

However, there still has been no formal discussion around what percentage of their wages they are expected, or will offer, to take.

RA is awaiting a response from RUPA, having finally handed over the 2019 financial statement and other details on Sunday, more than a fortnight after the union had requested them.

Australian rugby requires the players to take a hefty pay cut for the next three months to ensure existence beyond July.

But if no games can be played after that due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions, RA will be on the brink of bankruptcy, which has mortified the players.

RA also does not intend to restart negotiations with potential broadcasters for the 2021-25 package until July.

 

RUPA boss Justin Harrison. Picture: Adam Yip / Manly Daily
RUPA boss Justin Harrison. Picture: Adam Yip / Manly Daily

 

The lack of transparency regarding the financial documents has put the players off-side with RA chief executive Raelene Castle, who is fighting to save her job amid a push for her removal.

The ABC reported that 15 former Wallabies captains are aligned in overhauling RA's administration over a series of failures.

Highlighting the divide between Castle and her players, after a story emerged that new Australian coach Dave Rennie would reconsider the job if she is sacked, a top Wallabies star texted The Daily Telegraph: "Is this guy for real?"

Originally published as Escape plan: Wallabies stars could spark devastating exodus


St George woman arrested after major 11-month drug operation

premium_icon St George woman arrested after major 11-month drug operation

A RAID on a St George home has shut down an alleged drug operation after an...

State’s new cases as restrictions ease further

State’s new cases as restrictions ease further

No new cases in Queensland as more restrictions are lifted

‘Most horrendous pain’: Truckie gets $760k for work injury

premium_icon ‘Most horrendous pain’: Truckie gets $760k for work injury

A truck driver has been awarded $760,000 after a court ruling