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Interim NRL CEO Andrew Abdo.

CEO Andrew Abdo has announced the NRL will reorganise its business model, resulting in a 25 per cent reduction in staff levels to ensure a sustainable long-term future for rugby league.

Abdo addressed staff on Monday morning and the NRL issued a statement to announce details of the ARL Commission's plan to stabilise the sport following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the proposed re-organisation would make the NRL a "more dynamic and simplified business" to service the needs of fans, the 16 Telstra Premiership clubs, state leagues, broadcasters and commercial partners in a new economy. 

The NRL will focus on two important strategic areas, a world-class sports entertainment business and a governing body investing in participation and long-term connection to the community.

Under the new set-up, the NRL will be divided into seven teams: 

  • Competitions
  • Partnerships
  • Fan Experience
  • Finance, Technology & Operations
  • Risk, Integrity & Performance
  • Brand, Media & Communications
  • Participation & Community

According to the statement, there will be a 25 per cent reduction in roles across all levels. Overall, the NRL is targeting an annual reduction in all expenditure by $50m annually.

Changes already announced to the NRL’s executive team, have cut executive numbers from 11 members, prior to the pandemic, to eight.

Abdo said the changes were vital to ensuring a more effective and efficient business in a post-COVID economy. 

"Our business, like so many others, has been hit by a hurricane called COVID which caused substantial damage. Our strategy moving forward is to stabilise, renovate and grow," he said. 

"In order to stabilise, we must secure revenues and reduce our expenses to ensure a strong foundation.

Our business, like so many others, has been hit by a hurricane called COVID which caused substantial damage.

Andrew Abdo

"Then we will renovate by considering ways to make our products more entertaining and dynamic for our fans.

"Finally, we will develop bold plans for growth, looking at new products, new markets and how we can grow the game internationally. 

"Our game is part of the sports entertainment industry and we are aiming to transform faster than others to remain competitive in a dynamic market."

Abdo said the pandemic would force difficult decisions to be made. 

"We will lose some very good people during this process. Talented people with a genuine love and passion for our game who have all contributed in some way. This is painful but necessary process to ensure we survive.  

"I have genuine empathy for all employees affected and we will listen to their feedback. Our game must remain strong for future generations. We all want to leave the game in a stronger position than we first joined the sport."

He was confident rugby league would come out of COVID with strong foundations.

"What has inspired me most during the pandemic is how our game has come together.

"We have shown what we can achieve when we work together. Rugby league, under the direction of the Commission, has led the way in Australian sport and I am confident we will continue to do so."

The NRL will consult with employees over the coming week about the restructure proposals.