Australia's NRL plans to return from COVID-19 shutdown on May 28

SYDNEY: Australia's National Rugby League ( NRL ) announced Thursday that it intends to resume its 2020 season, interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak after two rounds on May 28.

No details were released on how the season would be structured, or the conditions under which the matches would be played, but the current Australian government restrictions would certainly rule out any fan attendance.

I am pleased to announce that we are planning to start the competition on May 28, said Australian Rugby League (ARL) Commissioner Wayne Pearce.

We don't have the details on the structure of competition yet because the landscape is changing around the limits of government. That will fuel the complexity structure.

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Today we land on a start date.

The NRL, the most popular winter league in Australia's eastern coastal states, has been desperate to resume the season and forestall what ARL chief Peter V'Landys has warned would be catastrophic financial consequences for teams.

Financial problems would be largely triggered by loss of television revenue by failing to meet its broadcast contracts.

The relationship with one of those broadcasters looked to be extremely strained on Thursday after a spokesman for Channel Nine, who pay A $ 185 million ($ 114.83 million) a year for their rights, launched a broadside at NRL management.

At Nine we had hoped to work with the NRL on a solution to the issues facing rugby league in 2020, brought on so starkly by COVID-19 said the spokesman.

But this health crisis in our community has exposed code mismanagement for many years.

Nine have invested hundreds of millions in this game for decades and we now find that they have wasted those funds deeply with very little to back clubs, players and fans.

We have a contract that the code does not fulfill. We look forward to talking about a long-term plan.

Pearce, however, said that Nine Entertainment was a key partner for the Australian rugby league.

We intend to fulfill our contractual obligations and look forward to maintaining a working relationship that works for both parties, he told reporters.

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