Leeds Rhinos chief Gary Hetherington says wages cut in line with club’s survival plan

LEEDS RHINOS chief executive Gary Hetherington says “salary adjustments” across the entire staff have been proposed in order to ensure the club survives.

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 9:09 pm
Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington at Emerald Headingley.

All 12 Super League clubs are in the process of detailing wage-cut plans to their players who have already been furloughed owing to the coronavirus.

Some players, including at Leeds, have already received communications about the measures that are being planned to help their clubs survive the financial implications of the pandemic.

“We’ve furloughed all our players and all-but about six of our staff and now we’re implementing these salary adjustments for all our 150 staff, management, executive directors and the players,” said Hetherington.

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“This is all part of the overall plan to, firstly, try and ensure the survival of our business and, secondly, try and keep everybody in employment.

“So, all our players and staff have been communicated with regularly as part of this process.

“We’ve also liaised closely with the GMB trade union and, I have to say, they have been very helpful and responsible and they are, indeed, supportive of our actions and these salary adjustments.

“These adjustments are a private matter between the club and the employee and obviously we’re hoping for everyone’s co-operation.”

Rugby league is still awaiting news from the Government regarding their application for emergency funding but clubs know that alone may not be enough to see them survive.

The sport has been suspended since mid-March and, with no likely start date yet agreed, the lack of gate receipts and game-day revenue among other sources of income is obviously having a devastating effect on all involved.

Super League clubs have discussed together the prospect of wage cuts but there is no uniform rate between them.

On the cuts at Emerald Headingley, Hetherington added: “I can’t go into detail about the way it works but it’s the same rate for all our players and staff.

“Everybody on our payroll is the same. The Super League clubs have liaised with each other, primarily to better understand each of our problems because what we’ve got is effectively 12 different businesses and each has its own challenge.

“Leeds and St Helens, for example, are very different to Salford and Wakefield. But we do have a vested interest in each other as we all need to ensure that we all survive.

“Each club, though, needs to do whatever it needs to do; we’ve implemented what we need to do to safeguard the future of Leeds Rhinos.

“Every other club needs to do whatever it needs to do to ensure its own survival.”

On whether the pay cut would just be for the remainder of this season or on into 2021, Hetherington admitted: “No one knows.

“That is the problem that we have all got. It’s impossible to make any bold predictions about when this [Covid-19] will be over and, indeed, we don’t know what the post-lockdown effects will be. There is so much uncertainty we really have to take this one step at a time.

“But every club is doing this in the best interest of its own club and the sport.”

On Rhinos’ workforce, he added: “We’ve asked them to respond relatively quickly. It’ not come as a shock to anybody as it’s part of a process that’s been going on for three or four weeks.

“We are expecting them to be supportive.

“I know in our case - and I suspect most other clubs as well but certainly ours - all our players and staff fully appreciate the issues.

“We’ve been very transparent. It’s a challenge for all of us. It’s our biggest-ever challenge and it’s certainly the game’s biggest-ever challenge as well.

“As everyone knows, we’re not a wealthy sport so we do depend on fans, sponsors, stakeholders - and now players and staff as well.”