Players union boss Garreth Carvell has called for a ban on Super League signings while clubs are asking players to take pay cuts.
Carvell – head rep for the GMB Union that represents 85 percent of top flight players – is confident the competition will restart on August 2 despite fears that clubs won’t have agreed terms by then.
But he says players have been angered by clubs making high profile recruits during the current talks – and wants the RFL to put a temporary ban on it.
Carvell explained: “Clubs signing players at the same time as asking others to take cuts doesn’t sit well with me or any of the players, and I can understand why they’re aggrieved about it. We’ve spoken to the RFL about putting a stop to recruitment while this is going on because it’s not fair.
“We’re not talking about like-for-like swaps with James Graham replacing Luke Thompson at St Helens, or if a club suffers an injury crisis and needs to bring somebody in.
“But when they’re just adding to their squads while cuts are going on I don’t think anybody would think that’s fair or there’s any justification in doing it. The players feel very strongly about that.”
Warrington prop Mike Cooper revealed this week that only three clubs had agreed fresh terms with their squads, prompting fears that the competition will be able to restart on schedule.
But Carvell says that has since increased to six, and hopes all 12 teams will reach an agreement by Friday. He said: “It’s still on-going but we’re hoping it will be finalised by the end of the week.
“Some clubs have been excellent with their communication throughout, and players there have been more accepting of cuts when they’ve seen exact figures in front of them.
“There have been other clubs where players have had literally two emails telling them what the cuts are and it’s those we’re having a bit of a battle with. Time is of the essence and we want to finalise it this week so we can start concentrating on rugby.”
Carvell and the GMB have also started to lobby the Government to make part of the £16million loan the sport was awarded in April into a grant, easing pressure on clubs to pay it back.
He added: “That could be a game changer for the sport. Considering what the Government is investing in the arts, a £16million grant to save a whole sport seems a small amount.
“Having part of it as a grant that the clubs didn’t have to pay back would help them a lot.”