Shane Richardson made a passionate request to the NRL to “recalibrate” following his arrest amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Rabbitoh general manager of South Sydney urged the competition leaders to work together with the clubs and players to “start again” when the league reopens.
Speaking NRL 360Richardson insisted that while the postponement questions everyone, this time away from the game it should be used wisely to ensure that the future of the sport is bright.
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“My opinion is that what we have to do is change the way we think about the game in the future,” said Richardson.
“We had a real opportunity here to recalibrate the whole way we do it.
“When we last sat down and made decisions, when the players grabbed the money and the companies grabbed the money and there was nothing left and the reserves were expelled, we all knew it was unsustainable – but we still had made progress.
“There is no doubt that this great game will continue, for the same reason it went on after the Super League. Because the people in the canteens and managing all the terrains in Australia will continue.
“What we need to do now is to make some sensible decisions on how to recalibrate the game. What is our venue? How can we disperse (the money) and reduce the overhead and the ridiculous money that has been spent in the past year?
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“We need to have a complete vision of the game, not just the clubs. What are we doing with our paths? What are we doing with our developments at the headquarters? What are we doing to reduce costs and overheads?
“Because when we get to the new season we had a wonderful opportunity for this reason to recalibrate players’ wages, recalibrate the way clubs are operating, which is unsuccessful.
“Like it or not, only four clubs are making a profit now. Here is a wonderful opportunity to take this game to the next level. Some people, including me, have to make some difficult decisions about how it should be.
“There is an opportunity to recalibrate the way we disperse our development, the way we disperse staff, the way clubs recalibrate their budgets, the payment of players – because from the beginning we knew we had given clubs too much money and players too. It has to change.
Like most companies, an emotional Richardson had to leave staff because of the virus outbreak – once he called it the “saddest two days of my life”.
“In the next 18 months, this game needs a minimum 25% cut across the board,” said Richardson.
“We have made cuts to the club at the moment and it has been one of the saddest two days of my life. I have to tell people to go home to their wives and tell them that there is no money for them until this game starts again They have mortgages and have to dress their children.
“All these things overnight, we had to tell difficult stories to that staff. I am also in the same situation, I was left without pay for two weeks.
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“It’s the tough decisions that the game has to make, but there are also tough decisions that players have to make. Recalibration has to be important, not just for this year, it has to be cross-cutting.
“The game can’t support wages from football departments, including Shane Richardson, and player payments too – it’s not a viable business model.
“Anyone who has sat down and watched it will tell you. We sat down four years ago and agreed that it was not a viable business model, but we capitulated. We made a decision based on pressure from clubs and players.
“This is the chance to start over and say” this is what we have to do and you guys have to participate. “The people behind the game received nothing in return.”