Toronto Wolfpack owner David Argyle has pledged to sell commercial assets to pay players who have gone without a wage since June in a new agreement with their trade union.
The GMB union held a lengthy meeting with Australian-born businessman Argyle on Tuesday afternoon when he put forward a formal offer for the 37 players and members of staff. They have gone without pay from the club since the middle of last year in a saga that included the Wolfpack’s withdrawal from Super League and the rejection of their re-entry in November.
During that period the players – including cross code star Sonny Bill Williams and a host of other established names – have not received their salaries. Wolfpack player Jon Wilkin revealed how some had been accepting food parcels, one was delivering dog food as a part-time job to make ends meet and another was sleeping in a camper van.
Argyle has made previous pledges to honour payments to players based on wage cuts that were already agreed due to the global pandemic. But a step forward has now been made with a formal written offer to the union. GMB’s Peter Davies said: “The meeting went well.
“We have confirmed the formal offer to settle with the players over their outstanding wage bill for the 2020 season, and have agreed to now begin the process of asking each player if they are willing to accept the offers. They will be set out in legally binding settlement agreements, a pretty standard process in these matters.
“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. We are working through that with the owner, David Argyle, 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. We would hope, in order to avoid further and lengthy litigation, to have this matter concluded by March.”
Although several of the Wolfpack squad have since found new clubs, there are still a handful whose playing futures are still uncertain. Davies says it’s been a difficult ordeal for everyone on the Toronto pay roll and maintains the best way forward would have been for the Super League clubs to accept Canadian businessman Carlo LiVolsi’s bid to relaunch the Wolfpack.
Davies added: “Our preferred position as a union was that the bid should have been supported – it was a legitimate bid and it was unfair to leave that decision to the clubs. It was never fair for clubs to vote on another club’s future – Toronto Wolfpack could have survived.”
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