’Brutal’ pay cuts send angry players to lawyers
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 player contracts end on April 30 after a freeze was put on negotiating new deals last December, as the league navigated the impacts of COVID-19 disruptions.
The adjusted 2020-21 season, which started late, will now extend into July for those players involved in the playoffs.
On Monday the NBL announced a “hardship fund” of $350,000 would be distributed to players impacted, a list that includes NBL stars Mitch McCarron and Adam Gibson.
But the maximum each can extract from the fund is $4000, a figure well short of what they could expect from 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 told the NCA NewsWire that 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.
Off-contract players will be forced to play out the season for nothing unless they receive approval for financial assistance. Picture: Graham Denholm/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
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 serious concerns.
They are now seeking legal advice after being told they could be fined it they refused 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.
All players who sign again for next season and beyond will be provided their full employment contract or salary rights but over a shorter period due to the extension of the current season.
“We understand it is extremely challenging, but that is why we put the substantial hardship fund in place to help the players through what has been a difficult season, and the majority of players understand that,” Holmes said.
“The fund is unprecedented in basketball, but that is what we’ve done to help the players get through it.”
NBL players have already taken up to a 50 per cent pay cut. Picture: Graham Denholm/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
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