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May 28 locked in after NRL strikes deal with Nine, Fox

The NRL is set to restart on its proposed May 28 date after ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys struck a deal with broadcast partners Channel Nine and Fox Sports on Friday.

The length of season is still to be confirmed, with a decision expected early next week.

A 17-round campaign looms as the minimum amount of games to be played, but broadcasters have significantly endorsed the Telstra Premiership's return to play date.

It is believed the State of Origin series will be held after the grand final, pending consultation with the RLPA, states and clubs.

V'landys had earlier on Friday conceded the game's broadcast partners "had a different view to the other" regarding how long the season runs, but told all parties are now aiming to restart the game in a month's time.

"We're united on the commencement date, the target date being the 28th of May," V'landys told on Friday evening.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys. ©NRL Photos

"From there we just need a bit more information on the competition structure, so everything's going to plan.

"And the meeting was very amicable and held in very good spirits and all three parties are united in aiming to get the game back and give it as big an audience as possible."

Negotiations around exemptions for the Warriors to arrive in Australia before the proposed May 4 return-to-training date and train together while in quarantine, and for interstate teams to travel to NSW, remain ongoing at government level.

All three parties are united in aiming to get the game back.

Peter V'landys

Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated on Friday that the Federal government would establish a set of nationwide principles to align state policies in enabling sporting codes and recreational activities to resume.

"In terms of the big codes - AFL, NRL, things like that - they’re both working through states and territories presently," he said.

"And what we’ll be doing, and particularly what the medical expert panel will be doing, will be drawing their proposals together."

Both broadcasters endorsed the NRL's return-to-play plan following another round of meetings between V'landys, Nine CEO Hugh Marks and Foxtel chief Patrick Delany.

A range of scenarios are believed to have been presented by the NRL regarding how long the season will run to its broadcast partners.

The RLPA and clubs will be consulted on a competition format next week after the game's proposed biosecurity measures document is distributed over the weekend.

A season length anywhere between 17 and 22 rounds have been discussed but yet to be confirmed.

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Should an agreement be reached for a 17 or 18-round campaign (including the two rounds played before COVID-19 halted play), this year's grand final being played in its traditional early-October time slot following a regular top-eight finals format.

That scenario would see the NRL decider held at the SCG as originally planned.

However, from October 10 the ground is handed over to the International Cricket Council for November's Twenty20 World Cup should that tournament be able to go ahead.

A season of 19 or more rounds would then make Bankwest Stadium the most likely grand final venue with the reconstruction of ANZ Stadium due to begin in June.

The NRL's Memorandum of Understanding with the NSW government prevents the decider being shifted outside of the state.

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.