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Warriors CEO Cameron George is confident about the club's survival this year — and beyond — though acknowledges it will be an extremely difficult road.

George has put together a special contingency plan for the Auckland franchise, as they brace for a dramatic drop in revenue in the coming months, after the suspension of the NRL season.

"We have a model that we have proposed to our organisation and we are working through that, in confidential terms," George told the Herald.


"It's very difficult to know what the future holds financially, like a number of businesses at the moment. But we are looking at what we need to do to be long term survivors."

George said his number one priority was retaining "as many staff as possible".

All commercial and football staff were briefed about the plan over the last two days.

The Herald understands that employees have been asked to take unpaid leave, for at least the next month, but George refused to comment on that.

"All of those matters are strictly confidential between myself and the staff and will remain that way, out of respect for them and their families," said George.

The Warriors employ about 70 staff and typically have an annual turnover of between $25-30 million.

Nearly half of their income ($13 million) comes from the NRL, though most of that (around $10 million) is for player payments.

The other main sources of revenue are sponsorship, private and corporate memberships and gate takings.


The club has already missed out on six home games in 2020 (assuming the NRL doesn't return until at least June), worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each time.

Like it has on general society, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been profound for professional sport, with the NRL one of the hardest hit, due to their economic model.

Since the competition's suspension last Monday, there have been some dire forecasts, given the ongoing uncertainty about the season.

Warriors CEO Cameron George. Photo / Photosport
Warriors CEO Cameron George. Photo / Photosport

On Friday the NRL deferred a scheduled meeting with all clubs to outline possible proposals for the rest of the season.

That's because the governing body is still negotiating with broadcasters around the situation, and also the Rugby League Players Association, over salary cuts that could exceed 80 per cent, at least in the short term.

All clubs will still receive their NRL grant for April, but payments beyond that are up in the air, dependent on discussions at Monday's meeting.

But George is taking a pragmatic approach to the future.

"You can look at it a hundred different ways, you can look at numbers, look at this and that," said George. "[But] if you draw a line in the sand right now with where we are at and look at how we are going to survive the next six months, that's about as best as we can look at. I'm focussed on that and trying to retain as many staff as possible."

But George admits there will be challenges, as has already been reflected across the NRL, with coaches stood down and other high profile staff members taking redundancies, like Rabbitohs' football manager Shane Richardson.

"The world is suffering massively and we can't expect the normal to be the future," said George. "We are trying to retain all staff, provide something and then review when we know.

"[But] we all need to understand; what has been happening for the last six months of the financial year, ain't happening in the next six months so we all have to be part of the rebuild. But I back us to come through this a lot better than people think."

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George also bristles at the doomsday suggestions currently coming from Australia that the Warriors and the Gold Coast Titans, which are privately owned and not backed by Leagues clubs, are most vulnerable in the current climate.

"Some people think our model is no good," said George. "But I look at [those] funded by leagues clubs and I would rather be in our position, because they could be shut for months and months.

"We'll get through this. Yes, we want help, yes, we are asking the NRL to help us, and of course it is going to be hard and we are in a dire situation but we will get through."

Indeed, the Warriors have some advantages.

Due to their set-up, they have long been forced to take a business oriented approach, reflected in their wide range of commercial partners and merchandise success.

In contrast many Australian clubs are propped up every year, to the tune of millions, by their affiliated leagues clubs, which garner their revenue through poker machine proceeds.

Those operations may be shutdown for an extended period — depending on what unfolds in Australia — whereas the Warriors have the backing of their owners, local manufacturing giant Autex.

"There are no better people in the world to have on our side," said George. "They have been operating in a global marketplace [for decades], they've seen highs and lows internationally and are a huge asset during these difficult and uncertain times." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website