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.

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