Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys has again admitted the NRL is facing the "biggest catastrophe you've ever seen" if the sport is suspended and can't get back on the field in 2020.

The unprecedented nature of the coronavirus crisis has left the sporting world in shock and the NRL navigating uncharted waters.

Details of the NRL's difficult financial position has left the sport needing to stay on the field to survive.

The NRL has been widely criticised for its stance on the issue after foundation ARL Commission member Gary Pemberton said AU$50 million should be banked in a future fund back in 2012.


By 2020, it should be between $400-450 million, speaking on Fox League's NRL 360, V'landys admitted the league had $70-80 million.

On Sunday night, Paul Kent said it was about "three months" runway.

It's been one of the sticking points so far throughout the crisis with the likes of Phil Gould taking aim.

Fox Sports journalist James Hooper pressed V'landys on why the NRL had so little in the fund.

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"I can't comment on the past, I can only comment on while I've been on the commission and we've been looking at a Future's Fund and that's why we have $70-80 million that has been banked up," he said.

"Unfortunately, this has been an unforeseen crisis. No one saw the consequences of this virus and the potential financial impact this has on the game. Gary Pemberton was 100 per cent correct, we should have been putting $50 million aside, we should have a futures fund and I can assure you that running into the future we will certainly have a futures fund going forward."

V'landys said that while the financial issue could be make or break the NRL, he believes all teams will survive.


Speaking after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the NRL "was not high on the list at the moment" for economic stimulus, V'landys admitted it may be crucial for the league survival if it is forced to shut down.

"Without it, the picture looks bleak," he said. "It really depends on the contingency we face. If it's a complete shutdown for the season, it's the biggest catastrophe you've ever seen. But we will do everything in our power to continue the season and minimise the financial impact on the game."

But it hasn't stopped the criticism of the lack of foresight in spending the proposed fund, leaving the NRL unable to weather the virus storm like the world's biggest sports such as the F1 and NBA.

Speaking on Fox Sports' NRL Tonight, journalist Brent Read said the NRL can't possibly stop and the entire league is to blame.

"I think everyone's got to take a bit of blame because the NRL in the past should have put more money aside but at the same time, the clubs have been demanding money from the NRL to make ends meet so the NRL has probably caved in to them," he said.

"I don't think you can sit there and say it's the NRL's fault, everyone's got to take ownership of it because everyone's constantly whinged they're not getting enough money and that puts pressure on the NRL to hand over cash that maybe they should have been putting in the bank."

Fellow journalist Jimmy Smith said the fund was established for this reason but the NRL used the fund after a shortfall, calling it "irresponsible" under the control of the original commission.

"A lot of clubs have been run poorly for a long time," Read added. "They haven't had to worry about making money and the NRL's probably caved in to pressure from them to help them make ends meet.

"Ultimately this could force us all to reassess how the game is governed, how the game is run at club level, we have to pull our head out of the sand. We might get through this but if it happens again we're gone."

Still dealing with plenty of unknowns, V'landys said so much was still uncertain in the rapidly changing situation.

"We want to have that lever in our armoury to suspend the season when we have to, I think it's a bit premature to do it now on the available advice but that could change tomorrow, that could change in an hour," V'landys said.

"We have to be flexible and we are going to be flexible but the best available advice we have is that our players aren't at risk, they are at very low risk if they reduce their social activity, it will be an even lower risk. This week we've chartered planes so the players on individual flights, rather commercial flights. We are bringing them back after the game so they aren't staying in hotels."

Journalist Phil Rothfield said he was writing a story that suggested the season may end in a November finals series.

"We have every option on the table," V'landys said. "We want to ensure our game is viable, we want to ensure our broadcasters are viable and all our players are viable. We will do everything in our power to keep the game going as long as possible to see the season out so we honour all our obligations and ensure our players livelihoods aren't effected."

Recently retired Rabbitohs legend Sam Burgess disagrees with Cameron Smith's view that the NRL should hit pause for a month, with the virus set to ramp up in late April, early May.

He said the players should keep playing while they still can.

"Right now, what we know is it's safe for us to continue playing, so we should continue playing," Burgess said.

"The butcher down the road, he has to get up, he has to go open his shop at six in the morning and work until six at night otherwise he doesn't get paid and doesn't feed his family.

"Not one player has caught the coronavirus and until that happens, while it's constantly evolving, I think let's live in the moment rather than predict what's going to happen because as we've seen, it's just unpredictable."

As the NRL and AFL appear to resist the rest of the sporting world's decision to suspend play.

The AFL's move to a 17 game season will see players lose 20 per cent off their contracts as they don't fulfil commitments to the broadcasters.

Kent said the NRL should be thinking of this, highlighting the Parramatta leadership group, who he said would take the brunt of any hit at the club if the league is suspended, meaning the lower paid players will be less effected.