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Club bosses heading for showdown with NRL chiefs

In the spotlight: NRL CEO Dave Smith.

In the spotlight: NRL CEO Dave Smith. Photo: Peter Stoop

A showdown is looming on Wednesday as some of the game's most powerful figures prepare to confront NRL chief Dave Smith over his plan to demand independent directors at clubs, and raise other issues that have left them increasingly disenchanted with League Central.

Frustrated at how the NRL's intentions for governance reform have been presented publicly, club chairpersons will use the meeting with Smith in Sydney to seek assurances that independents will not be thrust upon them, arguing that the make-up of boards should be assessed on a case-by-case basis rather than a one-rule-fits-all framework.

There remains great confusion in clubland about how the NRL's landmark funding shake-up, announced in principle in May, will be rolled out when it is scheduled to begin on November 1. The competition's 16 teams stand to lose up to $1 million if they don't meet minimum standards of governance proposed to include seven-member boards for all clubs with three independents and female representation.

Smith has denied reports that clubs will also need to have an independent chairpersons – a requirement that would jeopardise the positions of long-standing club bosses – but at least one club says they have been told by NRL officials that it is a condition that remains in the blueprint for reform.

There is also angst about what will constitute the independence of a director amid concerns the same criteria will be applied as that used in the formation of the ARL Commission. If that was the case, new independent board members would not be allowed to have had any association with their club for three years.

The NRL is expected to shortly announce three independent directors to a seven-member Wests Tigers board in a deal aimed at improving relations between the joint-venture partners and the financial viability of the merged entity. The NRL's head of club services, Tony Crawford, is also in the process of appointing four independent directors to a new Newcastle board after they took control from embattled former billionaire Nathan Tinkler on June 14.

At other clubs such as Parramatta, mired in factional upheaval in recent years, the introduction of independents could serve to provide much-desired stability.

Club chairpersons are concerned, however, at the prospect of governance guidelines being applied uniformly to every club no matter their size, financial status and ownership structure, and intend to make that clear to Smith on Wednesday.  

Club bosses including Nick Politis (Sydney Roosters), Ray Dib (Canterbury), Phil Gould (Penrith), Damian Keogh (Cronulla), Warren Lockwood (Dragons), Mike Bailey (Tigers), Scott Penn (Manly) and Bill Wavish (New Zealand Warriors) came together in July in a bid to form a united front against the proposed reforms.

They intend to press Smith for details on Wednesday and spell out their opposition to the blanket concept of passionate, long-serving directors being discarded to make way for business-savvy candidates with no existing ties to the clubs. 

Those who attend are also expected to express their dissatisfaction at what they perceive to be a growing disconnect between NRL head office and the clubs. Several were angry to learn of plans for an NRL rookie draft via Smith's comments in a newspaper last month. Others are frustrated at the absence of the ARL Commission chairman John Grant in the governance-reform process, believing they could have benefited from his input.

A spokesman said the NRL would continue to consult with the clubs in relation to minimum standards for boards. "This remains a work in progress and we will continue to discuss the best way forward with the clubs," he said.

7 comments so far

  • A draft imposed on young players would probably fail the legal test . It would only take one dissatisfied player to have it declared illegal .No matter how many would be prepared to voluntarily enter to develop a career ,what is wrong with the current free market ? Just what freedom does an 18 yr old aspirant have in battling a system which is his only path to a career ?
    Looking at the usual battle for the semis and the last round we have this weekend , is there any need to cure a defect and is there a gross imbalance between clubs .Who would want to be draftedto a club with obvious bad management , poor coaching , far removed from family and friends and constantly at the bottom of the ladder ?

    Commenter
    Chris
    Location
    Baulkham Hills
    Date and time
    September 02, 2014, 8:22AM
    • You can see the hand of Politis in this protest organisation

      Commenter
      Terry
      Date and time
      September 02, 2014, 9:19AM
      • Of course you can - and why shouldn't he take a hand in it. The Roosters are financially stable and successful both on and off the field. They are not a governance basket case like some other NRL entities... I am sure at least 99.9% of Easts Board, Club Members, Supporters, Players and Employees are 100% behind our current structure, and we certainly don't want change to a successful club foisted on us from accross the car-park.

        Commenter
        Enmore Chook
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        September 02, 2014, 4:11PM
    • Yes you can see the hand of Nick Politis, Ray Dib and every other good administrator questioning the reasoning of having independent directors, why would any club want to get rid of a successful board to bring in 3 independents with no affiliation with you club? If it aint broke, doesn't need fixing.

      Commenter
      Mike
      Location
      Central Coast
      Date and time
      September 02, 2014, 10:58AM
      • The NRL are off and away on another headline which distracts from the refereeing standard. However, on what basis can the NRL demand an autonomous organisation put any person onto a club board. The boards manage the football teams on behalf of the owners be they "Privately or Community" owned. Who is going to indemnify the owners against action of the independent board members? This could result in our clubs being puppets for the NRL, a possibility that would even leave the Kremlin in awe of it's audacity.

        Commenter
        Rob
        Location
        Gymea Bay
        Date and time
        September 02, 2014, 1:05PM
        • The NRL Clubs - still run by the few for the benefit of the few

          Commenter
          Roger
          Date and time
          September 02, 2014, 1:19PM
          • Another decision by the NRL that stinks of running a business and not of running a sport. Someone from the ARLC needs to wake up and realise that the two are hugely different, Mr Smith needs to be shunted off to the side and he should be the commercial manager and we should then try to find a sports administrator who is willing to jump in and run the sport. A banker who does not know, follow or understand rugby league or the NRL was never going to be a success.

            Commenter
            Rossco
            Location
            Robina
            Date and time
            September 02, 2014, 2:42PM

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            NRL Season 2016

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            PAR vs BRI 20:05Pirtek
            Fri, 04 MarTimes shown AEDT
            MAN vs CBY 20:05BO
            Sat, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
            CBR vs PEN 15:00GIO
            WST vs NZW 17:30CSS
            NQL vs CRO 19:301300
            Sun, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
            SYD vs SOU 16:00AS
            GCT vs NEW 18:30Cbus
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            MEL vs STG 19:00AAMI
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            Thu, 10 MarTimes shown AEDT
            PEN vs CBY 20:05Pepp
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            BRI vs NZW 20:05SUN
            Sat, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
            CBR vs SYD 15:00GIO
            SOU vs NEW 17:30ANZ
            PAR vs NQL 19:30Pirtek
            Sun, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
            CRO vs STG 16:00Shark Park
            MEL vs GCT 18:30AAMI
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            WST vs MAN 19:00VAS
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            Thu, 17 MarTimes shown AEDT
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            CBY vs PAR 20:05ANZ
            Sat, 19 MarTimes shown AEDT
            NEW vs CBR 17:30HS
            PEN vs BRI 19:30Pepp
            GCT vs WST 21:30Cbus
            Sun, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
            NZW vs MEL 14:00MSS
            STG vs SOU 16:00SCG
            Mon, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
            MAN vs CRO 19:00BO
            Fri, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
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            BRI vs NQL 20:05SUN
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            CBR vs GCT 17:30GIO
            SYD vs MAN 19:30AS
            Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
            STG vs PEN 16:00WIN
            Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
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            WST vs PAR 16:00ANZ
            CRO vs MEL 19:00Shark Park
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            Thu, 31 MarTimes shown AEDT
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            Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
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            MEL vs NEW 15:00AAMI
            WST vs CRO 17:30CSS
            NQL vs STG 19:301300
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            SYD vs NZW 14:00AS
            PAR vs PEN 16:00Pirtek
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            CBY vs CBR 19:00Belmore Sports Ground
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            Thu, 07 AprTimes shown AEST
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            Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
            SOU vs SYD 19:50ANZ
            Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
            PAR vs CBR 15:00Pirtek
            NZW vs MAN 17:30MSS
            PEN vs NQL 19:30Pepp
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            CRO vs GCT 14:00Shark Park
            NEW vs WST 16:00HS
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            MEL vs CBY 19:00AAMI
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            Thu, 14 AprTimes shown AEST
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            Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
            NQL vs SOU 19:501300
            Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
            GCT vs STG 15:00Cbus
            CBY vs NZW 17:30Westpac Stadium
            BRI vs NEW 19:30SUN
            Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs CRO 14:00GIO
            WST vs MEL 16:00VAS
            Mon, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs PEN 19:00AS
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            Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs SOU 19:50SUN
            Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
            CBY vs GCT 15:00ANZ
            CBR vs WST 17:30GIO
            NQL vs PAR 19:301300
            Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
            CRO vs PEN 16:00Shark Park
            Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
            NEW vs MAN 14:00HS
            STG vs SYD 16:00AS
            MEL vs NZW 19:00AAMI
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            Thu, 28 AprTimes shown AEST
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            PAR vs CBY 19:50ANZ
            Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
            PEN vs CBR 15:00Carrington Park
            SYD vs NEW 17:30CCS
            MAN vs NQL 19:30BO
            Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
            NZW vs STG 12:00MSS
            GCT vs MEL 14:00Cbus
            CRO vs BRI 16:00Shark Park
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            Thu, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
            STG vs CBR 19:50Jubilee Oval
            Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
            PAR vs SOU 19:50Pirtek
            Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
            PEN vs NZW 15:00AMI Stadium
            MEL vs NQL 17:30SUN
            MAN vs BRI 19:30SUN
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            NEW vs CRO 14:00HS
            WST vs CBY 16:00ANZ
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            GCT vs SYD 19:00Cbus
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            Thu, 19 MayTimes shown AEST
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            Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
            NQL vs BRI 19:501300
            Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
            WST vs NEW 15:00CSS
            NZW vs CBR 17:30Yarrow Stadium
            CRO vs MAN 19:30Shark Park
            Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
            PEN vs GCT 14:00Pepp
            CBY vs SYD 16:00ANZ
            Mon, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
            PAR vs MEL 19:00Pirtek
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            Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs WST 19:50SUN
            Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
            STG vs NQL 19:30WIN
            Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs CBY 16:00GIO
            Mon, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
            NEW vs PAR 19:00HS
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            Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs MAN 19:50GIO
            Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
            NZW vs BRI 15:00MSS
            NQL vs NEW 17:301300
            MEL vs PEN 19:30AAMI
            Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs WST 16:00AS
            SOU vs GCT 18:30nib Stadium
            Mon, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
            CBY vs CRO 19:00ANZ
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            Thu, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
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            Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
            WST vs SOU 19:50ANZ
            Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
            NEW vs NZW 15:00HS
            PAR vs GCT 17:30TIO
            SYD vs MEL 19:30AS
            Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
            MAN vs PEN 16:00BO
            Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
            STG vs CBY 16:00ANZ
            CRO vs NQL 19:00Shark Park
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            Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
            SOU vs PAR 19:50ANZ
            Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
            STG vs MEL 19:30WIN
            Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
            NZW vs SYD 16:00MSS
            Mon, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
            GCT vs MAN 19:00Cbus
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            Round 16
            Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
            PEN vs SOU 19:50Pepp
            Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
            NEW vs STG 15:00HS
            CRO vs NZW 17:30Shark Park
            CBY vs BRI 19:30ANZ
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            GCT vs CBR 14:00Cbus
            MEL vs WST 16:00AAMI
            Mon, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
            NQL vs MAN 19:001300
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            Round 17
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            Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs MEL 19:50SUN
            Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
            NZW vs GCT 15:00MSS
            WST vs PEN 17:30ANZ
            CRO vs PAR 19:30Shark Park
            Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs NEW 14:00GIO
            SOU vs NQL 16:00Barlow Park
            Mon, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
            MAN vs STG 19:00BO
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            Round 18
            Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
            PAR vs SYD 19:50Pirtek
            Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
            CBY vs WST 19:30ANZ
            Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
            PEN vs CRO 16:00Pepp
            Mon, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs NQL 19:00GIO
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            Round 19
            Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
            STG vs GCT 19:50Jubilee Oval
            Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
            MAN vs NZW 17:30nib Stadium
            SOU vs BRI 19:30ANZ
            Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
            NEW vs MEL 14:00HS
            PEN vs PAR 16:00Pepp
            Mon, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs CRO 19:00AS
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            Round 20
            Thu, 21 JulTimes shown AEST
            NQL vs CBY 19:501300
            Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs PEN 19:50SUN
            Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs NZW 15:00GIO
            GCT vs PAR 17:30Cbus
            MEL vs SYD 19:30AAMI
            Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
            CRO vs NEW 14:00Shark Park
            STG vs WST 16:00ANZ
            Mon, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
            SOU vs MAN 19:00ANZ
            View All Fixtures
            Round 21
            Wed, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
            NZW vs PEN 22:00MSS
            Thu, 28 JulTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
            CBY vs STG 00:00ANZ
            GCT vs CRO 00:00Cbus
            PAR vs WST 00:00ANZ
            SOU vs CBR 00:00ANZ
            MAN vs NEW 00:00BO
            NQL vs MEL 00:001300
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            Round 22
            Thu, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
            STG vs BRI 00:00WIN
            PAR vs MAN 00:00Pirtek
            CRO vs CBR 00:00Shark Park
            NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
            MEL vs SOU 00:00AAMI
            GCT vs NZW 00:00Cbus
            WST vs NQL 00:00VAS
            PEN vs SYD 00:00Pepp
            View All Fixtures
            Round 23
            Wed, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
            NZW vs SOU 22:00MSS
            Thu, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
            CBY vs MAN 00:00ANZ
            BRI vs PAR 00:00SUN
            WST vs GCT 00:00CSS
            STG vs CRO 00:00Jubilee Oval
            NEW vs PEN 00:00HS
            SYD vs NQL 00:00AS
            CBR vs MEL 00:00GIO
            View All Fixtures
            Round 24
            Thu, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
            SYD vs STG 00:00AS
            NEW vs GCT 00:00HS
            NQL vs NZW 00:001300
            MAN vs MEL 00:00BO
            CBR vs PAR 00:00GIO
            PEN vs WST 00:00Pepp
            SOU vs CRO 00:00ANZ
            View All Fixtures
            Round 25
            Wed, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
            NZW vs WST 22:00MSS
            Thu, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
            CBY vs NQL 00:00Belmore Sports Ground
            MEL vs BRI 00:00AAMI
            GCT vs PEN 00:00Cbus
            MAN vs CBR 00:00BO
            CRO vs SYD 00:00Shark Park
            NEW vs SOU 00:00HS
            PAR vs STG 00:00Pirtek
            View All Fixtures
            Round 26
            Wed, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
            NZW vs PAR 22:00MSS
            Thu, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs SYD 00:00SUN
            CBY vs SOU 00:00ANZ
            STG vs NEW 00:00Jubilee Oval
            NQL vs GCT 00:001300
            MEL vs CRO 00:00AAMI
            WST vs CBR 00:00VAS
            PEN vs MAN 00:00Pepp
            View All Fixtures

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