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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.

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.

12 comments so far

  • I will give Mr. Grant all the time he needs to make these decisions and if he and his team makes a few mistakes along the way thats o.k too, because I trust them to do the right thing by our wounderful game. I get the feeling Mr. Gould is doing a bit of snipping or perhaps he feels he should be consulted first.I don't expect any kneejerk reactions from Mr. Grant and his team.

    Date and time
    December 06, 2012, 8:10AM
    • Apart from the salary cap next year, I'm not sure exactly what decisions you are waiting for..

      Date and time
      December 06, 2012, 9:13AM
      • Unlike the feelings of at least one Panthers fan about the way Gould has gone about his job with Penrith. I don't have any faith that he is acting in Penrith's long term interests, but simply using them as a platform to bully his own agenda through. He and Ivan Cleary had a team at their disposal that was good enough to finish 2nd on the ladder just two seasons ago, and they've simply gone about systematically dismantling it. Seeing Luke Lewis and Michael Gordon in Cronulla colours is heartbreaking. I bought season tickets the last two years after that fantastic 2010, but have not renewed for this year because I can't see how a dispirited team, constantly being bullied and abused by Gould and his henchman Cleary, can be expected to turn it around and win games. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not prepared to commit money up front for every match until I see a team on the field that really wants to play great footy for the Panthers. And they had the audacity to put up the prices this year!

        1991 2003 when next?
        Date and time
        December 06, 2012, 9:42AM
        • Great post mate. 100% agree on everything you said. As a Panthers Fan, I have been constantly shocked at the quality of players we have lost (e.g. Gordon, Lewis, Petero) in recent years and our replacements being nowhere near the level as their predecessors. Every transfer season, other clubs (e.g. Bulldogs, Rabbitohs, Broncos) are always in talks with the "big" named players, who have delivered on gameday time and time again for them. On the contrary, our team never seems to be in talks with the "big names", always signing lesser, 2nd-class players who simply do not have the potential to match their opponents. Additionally, there were reports earlier this yr we have breached the salary cap!!! Either that report was rubbish, or our recruitment agents need a massive overhaul, as put simply, we do not have the talent to match our fellow counterparts.

          Penrith Fan
          Date and time
          December 06, 2012, 3:55PM
      • AN outstanding failure of the NRL is the secret nature of the annual gross income and how it is dispersed. All would like to know. To theorise around the edges about who gets what is useless if we don't know the starting point. Does 50% of income still flow to Murdoch? Who knows the answers? Why is it confidential?

        Date and time
        December 06, 2012, 10:43AM
        • I'd like to see real honesty from Clubs, Referees, ARL, Judiciary and Players. So many of the explanations, excuses and downright bulldust that has been offered to the Rugby League public in the past has been an insult to our intelligence. If i have to say to myself or my rugby League friends, "we're not that stupid" in 2013 I will be disappointed.

          Date and time
          December 06, 2012, 10:46AM
          • The horde of hacks at the Daily Crappergraph are doing all they can to wedge the ARLC. Their uncleverly orchistrated broadsides at Grant and the Commission only serve to prove it's doing the job it was intended to do and that is be fair and thoughtful before making decisions.

            Ignore the dweebs at the Crappergraph and Rugby League is moving in the right direction under far better management than it's seen in two decades.

            Date and time
            December 06, 2012, 11:48AM
            • Phil,
              Let me ask this,if the commission that you clearly support from your comments above determines that it is in "the best long term interst of the game" for some of the Sydney teams to merge and/or move will you still support the commission even it that means for example the Panthers merging with Parramatta or even becoming the Perth Panthers. After all, as you say "that is all you ask"

              grumpy bear
              Date and time
              December 06, 2012, 12:27PM
              • Thanks for the column, Gus, fleshing out yours and the clubs' position going into 2013. I still however have concerns about the ARLC's decision making capabilities. Their handling of the 2013 NRL draw, sacking of the referees and ref's bosses, the appointment of the new CEO and the salary cap for 2013 do not necessarily suggest a management team acting in the best interests of the game. Comments from followers of the game through Twitter, etc suggest many are concerned with the lack of transparency in the decision-making process.
                I appreciate that you say they are working tirelessly,etc, but I still believe the game's administration is in many ways out of its depth. If as you say you believe the senior mgt within the NRL needs changing, I do not see any harm in letting the viewing public know (the game's biggest asset) in what areas these changes need to occur...I'm sure we can guess some of the inherent problems that need to be dealt with, but transparency and consultation with the public may go a long way to alleviating fans' concerns.

                Date and time
                December 06, 2012, 3:25PM
                • "If you want to instigate change, then don't waste your time trying to change the people; you must CHANGE the people."

                  Sorry Mr Gould, but which Neanderthal are you quoting? This management practice was banished to the badlands (and 'reality' TV) many moons ago - but maybe that's why Penrith are going so well?

                  Gold Coast
                  Date and time
                  December 06, 2012, 4:38PM

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