Rugby Union

Brumbies board to be scrutinised over Michael Jones stand down

Canberra club rugby officials are poring over the KPMG document that is being investigated by the Australian Federal Police as the ACT Brumbies board prepares to be scrutinised this week over their decision to stand down chief executive Michael Jones.

Speculation has been growing that there could be an extraordinary general meeting called on Tuesday morning before Jones returns to court for round two of an internal war, which could result in significant board changes.

Legal action: Brumbies' Michael Jones leaves the ACT Supreme Court.
Legal action: Brumbies' Michael Jones leaves the ACT Supreme Court.  Photo: Rohan Thomson

The clubs remain divided and undecided on whether they should be involved, but it is understood some now have access to the detailed KPMG report into transactions at the Brumbies between 2009 and 2013 that have been the source of angst with major stakeholders.

Details of the report are set to emerge over the coming weeks if legal proceedings continue and it has put Jones, the board and university officials at loggerheads as it remains unclear if relationships are irreparably damaged.

The clubs hold 14 of 23 votes in the Brumbies board room and the board's role in trying to oust Jones has ruffled feathers. Any move to vote no confidence in the board would need a majority to be pushed through, likely triggering a major governance overhaul.

The board has been unable to comment due to legal proceedings after Jones gained a temporary injunction against the decision to stand him down last Monday night.

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It remains unclear whether the board will launch a defence in the ACT Supreme Court when the case resumes on Tuesday, or if the other respondents named in Jones' action - University of Canberra vice-chancellor Stephen Parker, Joe Roff, David Lamont, the University of Canberra or the University of Canberra union - will also be present.

It is believed that all parties have access to the KPMG report that is part of an ongoing investigation by the AFP fraud and major crime department.

Tension between all parties stems from the AFP investigation after the report was commissioned by the ARU integrity unit and jointly funded by the ARU and the Brumbies.

The AFP has stated it could take up to two years to complete after reviewing more than 100,000 emails into the sale of the Griffith headquarters, building a new home at the University of Canberra and an Alliance Agreement between the Brumbies and university.

Jones said in an interview on ABC Grandstand last week that he felt the AFP investigation was the reason why people were "taking a hack at me". The interview prompted the board to stand him down.

Jones filed an injunction last week to allow him to return to work less than 24 hours after after having his business credit card cancelled and asked to hand over his keys to Brumbies headquarters. He was back in the office less than 48 hours after being stood down.

The board is yet to detail why Jones was stood down at a 14-minute meeting. Jones had hoped to use the meeting to convince the board to join him in ACT Supreme Court action against those attacking his position.

Jones has privately received the backing of the Brumbies coaching staff and believes the outcome of the AFP investigation will vindicate everything he has done.

Jones called the Canberra club presidents to a meeting last week to discuss the situation.

Part of the frustration in clubland is that a trust for community rugby was supposed to be set up after the $11.375 million sale of the Brumbies' former base in Griffith.

However, the money from the sale has almost diminished after investing in a new base at the University of Canberra and recording losses for the past five years, including a deficit of $1.68 million last year.

It is believed the ARU and the ACT government have offered financial support should the Brumbies need it, but ARU boss Bill Pulver has stated the club's finances are "solid".

The ongoing legal stoush and uncertainty has developed into a confusing situation for the club's supporters and sponsors, who remain unclear on the drama unfolding.