The Magpies' two leagues clubs at Ashfield and Campbelltown would be renamed ''Wests Tigers'' if an NRL proposal was accepted, ranking it among the worst rebranding ideas ever to come from the headquarters of a corporation, akin to Coca-Cola's decision to launch ''New Coke''.

The NRL sought to rebadge the licensed clubs controlled by Wests and Balmain with the Wests Tigers logo during talks to settle the dispute between the co-owners of the NRL club.

Wests' palace at Ashfield, whose foyer has giant portraits of the Magpies' rugby league and cricket teams of the century, would have had the magpie on its roof replaced by the tiger which has been caged since Balmain's Victoria Road club closed with debts of $7 million.

Ditto, Wests Leagues' booming premises at Campbelltown, while Balmain's two small operations at Flemington Markets and Five Dock would have had ''Wests'' added to their doors. Not only does the proposal of the NRL - aged only 15 - ignore the 105-year history of both Wests and Balmain, it is oblivious to the cause of the tension between the foundation clubs.

Wests Tigers has lost a generation of Magpie fans because the NRL's own literature refers to it as the Tigers; some call it ''Balmain'' and its players are seemingly always dressed in orange.

Renaming Wests Ashfield's premises - built on the deeds of Keith Holman, Arthur Summons, Noel Kelly and Tom Raudonikis - Wests Tigers would have reinforced that perception.

It's also presumptive to suggest Wests Campbelltown would welcome the tiger.

It held one of Wests' five votes in the joint venture but surrendered it this year over frustration at time taken in board meetings ending in stalemates.

Basically, Wests sought control via a 6-4 vote and the chairman's position, in exchange for funding that would settle debt and allow it to grow its Campbelltown fan and player base.

Balmain refused. Hence the ARL Commission proposal to lend the joint venture $8 million (repayable) for Wests and Balmain each having two votes on a new seven-man board with three independent directors. Hopefully, the ARLC's role in the choice of the three independents will not be as blind to history as its proposal to rebrand the licensed clubs.

No one at the ARLC is owning up to the idea, except to say it didn't come from chief executive Dave Smith. Wests won't contribute money from their leagues club to the joint venture, simply because partners Balmain cannot. It means a $17 million redevelopment at Ashfield will proceed, with the Magpies focused on bricks and mortar, rather than football.

The $8 million loan will add to the pressure on the ARLC to meet its aim of setting aside $50million per year for a future fund.

This year's $50 million has already been reduced to $38 million as a result of wrong budgetary forecasts, increased grants to NRL clubs, Cronulla's legal expenses over the supplements scandal and the establishment of an integrity unit. The ARLC's determination to restore its $50million target has caused the NSWRL and QRL to be excluded from budget meetings and had their anticipated share of the $250million-a-year TV windfall slashed to a 3 per cent increase on last year's funding.

This has resulted in a letter from the NSWRL's new chief executive, David Trodden, to Smith, protesting his league is being marginalised and treated as a business unit within the ARLC, rather than an ''organisation with broad-based (and independent) responsibilities for organisation of the game within our state''.

Smith has basically told the state leagues to divorce themselves from community activities, claiming these are the responsibilities of the ARLC.

Trodden says in his letter that a review by former Queensland treasurer Andrew Fraser made no mention ''that 'community' or 'development' were areas for which we had no responsibility''. Fraser also reviewed Wests Tigers' corporate structure, yet directors admitted to being ''pissed off'' that his report paid scant attention to the imbalance between the joint venture partners over their ability to provide investment funds. The ARLC plans a review of its competition structure at the end of next season, causing speculation the Sharks may be relocated to Queensland. It won't happen, not with $45 million of revenue guaranteed over the next five years from the Sharks' residential and commercial development.

The commission should pay less attention to geography and more to history.