Frustrated clubs want a change of pace but are still united behind commission - NRL is a different matter
John Grant ... has support from the 16 NRL clubs. Photo: Brendan Esposito
The support from the 16 NRL clubs for chairman John Grant and his fellow commissioners is complete and unwavering. It's clear to see these people are setting up a solid foundation for the future of our great game.
Personally, I can also guarantee my 100 per cent support for Grant and our commissioners.
This is not to say we won't disagree from time to time. Having people with differing opinions is a good thing. However, I'm sure I speak for all NRL club officials in saying we have complete confidence in knowing these commissioners will always base their decisions on what they believe to be in the best long-term interests of the game. That is all we can ask.
I will admit clubs have become restless over the delays in getting major issues finalised. It took a long time to announce our new chief executive David Smith, and he still doesn't start until February.
Negotiations over funding from the NRL to clubs drags on. These funding packages are linked very closely to player wages, yet we still have no official salary cap level or Player Collective Bargaining Agreement in place for next year and beyond.
However, recent attempts to try to drive a wedge between the 16 NRL clubs and the new ARL Commission are mischievous and a waste of time.
Suggestions a Christmas lunch for club chairmen and CEOs set down for Monday was an emergency meeting to discuss a vote of no confidence in the commission are scurrilous.
It is a lunch for the members of the newly formed clubs council in a further show of the spirit and solidarity among the clubs that have worked together over the past couple of years.
For some time the co-operation between NRL clubs on big issues affecting the game has been nothing short of inspirational. Sure we compete with each other on the field. But off the field we are all working together for the good of the game.
Remember too, it was the NRL clubs that first came together to campaign for the establishment of an independent commission. Why would we now not support the initiative we ourselves created?
The reasons for a new independent commission were twofold.
First, clubs were unanimous in the belief our game should not be owned by a media company. The conflicts of interest in having the game owned by the same company that owned the major pay TV and print media were easy to see. In the end, even the media company acknowledged this fact and supported change.
Second, the clubs were in furious agreement we needed a change to the management of the NRL and hopefully a restructuring or streamlining of the expensive and unnecessary proliferation of leagues and governing bodies in our game. This hasn't been easy, and we knew the rationalisation process was always going to take time. Traditions and longstanding brands have to be respected. However, common sense is starting to prevail, and the processes are now well under way.
We remain well aware of the enormity of the task facing the commission. Admittedly, we get impatient, but that doesn't mean we don't support the commissioners. We greatly appreciate their diligence, expertise and tireless efforts.
Do we support and have confidence in NRL management?
I personally believe change is desperately needed, and feel the commission made its view clear earlier this year when it terminated CEO David Gallop's contract four months after coming to office.
The commission can only be as effective as the management team that reports to it. I firmly believe we now need to remove those at the NRL who also contributed to this culture.
As a smart bloke once told me: "If you want to instigate change, then don't waste your time trying to change the people; you must CHANGE the people."
Perhaps the commissioners are leaving this process to Smith. If so, fair enough. It's just that the new CEO will need to take time to get the lie of the land before he works out who in his staff might be part of the problem, or if they are part of the solution.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.