The Cairns Post
NBL faces player backlash over fund
A GROUP of frustrated NBL players are seeking legal advice amid fears they could play out the rest of the season either unpaid or for a fraction of their salary, having already taken 50 per cent pay cuts.
Nearly one-third of off-contract player deals end on April 30, which was agreed in December by the majority of players as the league navigated the impacts of COVID-19 disruptions.
The agreement also included the length of the season and the impact on player pay. The adjusted 2020-21 season, which started late, will now extend into June for those players involved in the playoffs.
On Monday the NBL announced a “hardship fund” of $350,000 would be distributed to players impacted.
But the maximum each can extract from the fund is $4000, a figure well short of expected normal playing wages.
It is understood the criteria for extra support via the hardship fund will be based on a player’s employment status and financial circumstances.
One player said the situation was “brutal” given NBL players had taken up to a 50 per cent pay cut, which started early in the off-season and was agreed for 12 months.
The players had received the financial boost of JobKeeper during COVID, but this assistance has now ceased.
It’s a situation reflective of the challenges facing the NBL, which pushed through the pandemic without a major broadcast deal to prop up the league, its clubs and players.
The Australian Basketball Players’ Association was adamant an “overwhelming majority” of players voted for the hardship fund, but a significant number have voiced concerns. They are seeking legal advice after being told they could be fined it they refuse to play without normal pay conditions.
Players’ Association chief executive Jacob Holmes conceded it was an “extremely challenging” time for the players, but the hardship fund was the best it could offer.
Holmes also said the $4000 maximum amount could be increased based on a player’s application or if a player qualified for the finals.