SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: ARLC Chairman Peter Vlandys speaks to the media during an NRL press conference at NRL headquarters on March 24, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: ARLC Chairman Peter Vlandys speaks to the media during an NRL press conference at NRL headquarters on March 24, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

‘It’s D-Day’: V’landys reveals plan to finalise NRL season

ARLC chairman Peter V'landys has vowed to end "the procrastination" over the return of the NRL and says a decision on the length of the season will be made today.

The NRL is still in discussions with Channel 9 and Foxtel about when and how the competition will recommence.

While Channel 9 attempted to sabotage the NRL's plans to reboot on May 28, declaring the game's actions as "premature", V'landys is determined to get a deal done.

"We've got two different broadcasters. One has a different view to the other," he said on Channel 9's The Today Show.

"Today is D-Day for me. A decision will be made as to the length of the season, between the two broadcasters.

"We will meet our contractual obligations to the broadcasters, but a decision has to be made.

"I think the procrastination has been taking long enough, and decisions will be made today."

V'landys said the NRL was confident its planned biosecurity measures would allow the season to return.

"It's disappointing that people use scaremongering rhetoric when it's not necessary," he said.

"We have looked at all the data, we have done enormous research, we're going to put enormous biosecurity measures in place to protect our players.

"Our players will be safer under our system than they would be if they were in the community.

"And the proof is in the pudding. We've got 485 players, and just with the self-isolation, which is not as strict as the ones that are going to apply when we recommence, there hasn't been one positive.

"I think people have got to stop using this alarmist language."

Earlier, Channel 9 attempted to sabotage the NRL's bold plans to reboot the 2020 season on May 28, declaring the game's ­actions as "premature".

It comes as The Daily Telegraph has learnt that Fox Sports have put a strong proposal forward to have 20 more matches - taking the regular season to 22 played this year.

That would leave the game just three rounds short of the original 25-game season, ensuring the integrity and financial stability of the competition.

Peter V'landys was hopeful of locking away the broadcast partners' commitment to the game by Friday but tthe was NRL off guard with 9's statement on Thursday night aimed to delay the restart of the season.

"Although we agree constructive discussions have been held between the NRL, Nine and Foxtel, we feel it's premature to be confirming a start date at this stage," a Nine spokesperson said. "There is a great will to work together to an outcome, but a lot of work still to do. A deal needs to be completed and the structure of the competition locked, which importantly must include how it will operate within the health-and-safety standards currently affecting the community."

 

Nine CEO Hugh Marks. Picture: AAP/Joel Carrett
Nine CEO Hugh Marks. Picture: AAP/Joel Carrett

 

Nine's statement is at odds with the league receiving a massive boost in their planned comeback, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirming the federal government has been "directly engaged" in discussions with its New Zealand counterparts to allow the Warriors into Australia.

Nine boss Hugh Marks and V'landys have held very positive discussions all week along with Foxtel chief ­executive Patrick Delany.

Foxtel reaffirmed their commitment to rugby league and its fans and have backed the NRL's stance to resume the season as soon as it is safe to do so. The discussions this week had left the NRL confident a deal was on the brink of being announced. Now the hopes of fans and players have been dampened by Nine's negotiating tactics, however, the network is expect to retreat from Thursday's statement.

Just over 24 hours earlier Project Apollo boss Wayne Pearce declared May 28 a certainty for the resumption of the NRL competition.

RLPA boss Clint Newton - who is also on Project Apollo - surpringly levelled criticism against Pearce, hinting he did not feel Pearce's comments reflected what had been finalised in the meeting just hours before.

 

 

Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany.
Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany.

 

"We have a level of responsibility that anyone who is associated with that Project Apollo group, that when we come out of those meetings are a true reflection of where we landed," Newton said.

Nine and Foxtel are also more than a month apart on the proposed length of season.

Nine had given the impression they would commit to 15 more games, allowing each team to play each other once, with two ­rivalry rounds to end the season and the State of Origin series to be staged after the NRL grand final.

Between them, Foxtel and the Nine Network pay about $300 million each year to broadcast the game. The more rounds the NRL plays, the more money the league and therefore the players and cash-strapped clubs will receive for the season.

However, the longer the season goes, the less valuable it is to Nine because games would potentially clash with the T20 cricket World Cup.

Originally published as 'It's D-Day': V'landys reveals plan to finalise NRL season


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