Statemtents from ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg in announcing the Telstra Premiership’s indefinite suspension on Monday night.
Thank you again for coming at short notice ladies and gentlemen.
As we said from the outset, the paramount consideration in our decision making process has always been the safety and health of our players.
Unfortunately that has taken a dramatic turn today.
Our pandemic expert and our biosecurity expert has said due to the rapid rate of infection, that we can no longer guarantee the safety of our players to continue to play.
And as I said, that is the paramount consideration in all our decision making is the safety and health of our players.
Accordingly, we are suspending the season.
We aren’t going to put a time period to the suspension.
We are going to look at every available option to us in the next week or so as to how we can recommence the season. Be it in other areas, be it in Northern Queensland, all the options are still on the table.
We thank the players for all their support to date but we also thank the fans. This decision hasn’t been taken lightly but we have a world renowned pandemic expert and they are very, very concerned at the rapid rate of the infection.
As I said, we always will consider the health of the players before anything else and we have no other option but to suspend the season.
We said from the start of this unfolding pandemic that what was the case today could be different tomorrow. What was the case this hour could be different next hour. And if the advice changed then so would we.
Tonight, our situation has changed dramatically.
We have made, as Peter said, the unprecedented decision to suspend the 2020 season.
It is a deeply sad day, but also one of the most responsible days in our game’s history.
We would not have reached this point unless the conditions had shifted so dramatically, and so exponentially.
Today is a difficult day for the rugby league community, both here at head office and at our clubs across Australia.
Our priority is to do everything we can to give our game the best chance for a long and sustainable future.
We have briefed all our Clubs of this decision, and our players have also been told.
For now, we have asked our players not to turn up to training tomorrow while we resolve this situation as best we can. The self isolation guidelines we have previously provided remain in place.
There will be a lot of uncertainty among our players and we will try and give them as much support as possible.
The impact of this decision on those who work within rugby league will be significant. From this afternoon, the NRL’s offices are closed until May 1. All staff have been asked to take annual leave and those who do not have annual leave will go into a negative balance.
This was a difficult decision but an important decision to give our business the best chance of retaining our staff long term and allows us to consider our options to protect the long term future of our game.
While I say this is a tough day for our game, we know it is a tough time for everyone across the entire community.
There is much fear and uncertainty among us all about what the future holds. As we sit here tonight, no one can confidently predict what is ahead.
All we can do as a sport, and a community, is remain united and follow the expert advice to keep ourselves and our families safe.
Finally, can I thank our fans and our partners for your ongoing support.
These are difficult days and we know not having rugby league as an outlet as we become more isolated from each other will disappoint many.
But the health of our players and our staff must come first.
We look forward to returning to the Telstra Premiership as soon as is safe to do so.
We cannot say with certainty what the future holds, but the rugby league community as a whole will work through this as a team.
We are all in this together and we will get through this together.