British union says Toronto Wolfpack players could get missing wages by March

·2 min read

The British union representing Toronto Wolfpack players and staff says it hopes to get them their unpaid wages by March.

The Wolfpack personnel have gone without pay since June 10. The transatlantic rugby league team subsequently stood down July 20, saying it could not afford to play out the remainder of the pandemic-affected 2020 Super League season.

Peter Davies, a senior organizer for the GMB union, said Tuesday a formal settlement offer from majority owner David Argyle has been confirmed. The union is now asking players if they are willing to accept the offers, which would then be turned into legally binding settlements.

"Players and staff are relieved that we have at least been able to secure a formal offer but some have questioned the accuracy of the amounts owed," Davies said in an email to The Canadian Press. "We are working through that with the owner … but again, firm offers will be made in the coming days to each.

"The money to pay out on these offers is being generated from commercial assets that David has committed to use to wrap up and wind down the Toronto project and we would hope, in order to avoid further and lengthy litigation, to have this matter concluded by March."

While the settlement amounts to more than $1 million, it only covers the reduced salaries due to the pandemic that the players agreed to during the 2020 season. Davies says the Wolfpack players, like those on other Super League teams, agreed to wage cuts from 30 to 50 percent to get through the season.

Davies, whose union helped negotiate those initial concessions, says players will likely end up getting about 45 per cent of their full salary.

"This will bring this awful situation to a close for Toronto but it should be noted that this was never the preferred choice for the GMB," said Davies.

The union supported the Wolfpack's bid for reinstatement to the Super League for 2021 under new ownership. That proposal was voted down on Nov. 2. The GMB also believed Toronto should have received its share of TV money like other Super League clubs.

"Toronto were never given a level playing field from the off and their demise is not something anyone can celebrate," Davies said. "They will be missed."

In December, Leigh Centurions were chosen to replace Toronto as the 12th team in Super League.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press