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The rugby league world watched and applauded the formation of the ARL Independent Commission last week – a new administrative body to replace the NRL and ARL. [art by James Brennan]

For several years, commentators and fans alike were angered by those who opposed the move and remained excited by the proposal put forward by the 16 NRL clubs.

Finally, they asserted, the game will be controlled by a truly independent body.

But as the 16 NRL clubs moved to formalise their alliance this week it is becoming clearer that the doomsdayers were right. Rugby league in Australia has not been liberated – it has been stolen.

You see, in the post-Super League era, the NRL was jointly owned by News Ltd and the ARL. The ARL used funds generated from the NRL competition to provide for the hundreds of grassroots clubs.

As the Independent Commission replaces both the NRL and the ARL, most people expect them to continue to provide for the regions and for the game’s future.

However, while the NSWRL, CRL and QRL still have votes on the NRL IC’s make-up, the 16 NRL clubs have a greater vote. So long as they vote together as a bloc, these 16 NRL clubs can remove any commissioner they choose – irrespective of the wishes of the league bodies that represent the other hundreds of clubs.

One week after the NRL IC began, this week’s announcement that the 16 NRL clubs are formalising their alliance (perhaps through a registered company) is the final detail to control the game’s resources.

The NRL commissioners will determine those funds that will be dispersed to the leagues and those that will be given to the 16 NRL clubs.

They will decide whether some of the current 16 NRL clubs will be removed from the NRL competition – or whether they will remain. But as it is the 16 NRL clubs that now determine the fate of each of the commissioners themselves, these decisions are already clear.

In its current form, the NRL IC will serve the objectives of the 16 NRL clubs – and this can only be at the expense of the grassroots clubs and of the game itself.

The deniers of this inevitable truth will be plentiful, but the facts of the NRL are not disputed. Commissioners cannot vote against the 16 NRL clubs’ wishes if they are removed from their post.

Altruism was a luxury afforded to the ARL, but not the NRL IC.

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The Crowd Says (19)

  • February 22nd 2012 @ 8:24am
    Crosscoder said | February 22nd 2012 @ 8:24am | ! Report

    Players have an association,refereess ditto.The club have now an association.The commission was alerted to the fact as far back as October 2011.Hardly news ,a storm in a tea cup.
    The clubs will as a unified body ,be able to appoint a spokesman to lobby, or speak to Gallop,with a unified voice.Instead of the ill disciplined at times rabble, some of the clubs,have the habit of thus presenting themselves.

    The ARLC can either take it on board or cast it to the waste of space bin.The clubs are not the final arbiters.They were the ones after all that pushed for the I.C. You reap what you sow.

    An overblown story by a News journo,who appears to find it difficult to accept News Ltd äint there “anymore “and the ARL bashing has become obselete.
    I will say it again, give the ARLC time to establish its credentials,give the new clubs’association time to establish its credentials,before we commit hari kari,and the cavalry hasn’t yet arrived.Cart before horse syndrome, another Rothfield special.

    • February 22nd 2012 @ 7:14pm
      mushi said | February 22nd 2012 @ 7:14pm | ! Report

      Actually they are the final arbiters as they control the voting process, which is why I’ve found the “independent” label hilarious. Theya re about as independent as a hand from a forearm.

      Sometimes one need know what is in the cart before you select the horses.

  • February 22nd 2012 @ 8:28am
    Johnno said | February 22nd 2012 @ 8:28am | ! Report

    You have players union, the IC, why not a club union. As we are seeing in soccer in the A-league clive palmer nathan tinkler, tony sage. It is the club owners money, of course in the NRL club owners have a right to how the game is run it is there money.
    And of crows news limited still have influence cross coder, they are the ones that are needed for a big tv deal to insure rugby league’s survival. I don’t think even channel 10 will have the money that news has. But doesn’t lachlan murdoch own shares in 10 anyway i don’t know so isn’t news and 10 basically going to be very similar n ownership. But too say news do not run the game anymore crosscoder, is not right. WIth out news limited tv rights money i can’t see rugby league surviving in australia as a top pro sports comp such as the NRL.

    • February 22nd 2012 @ 1:58pm
      Crosscoder said | February 22nd 2012 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

      Well let us see,what the makeup is of the Tv offering in 2013.If News misses out on monday night football for starters,they have lost a powerful ratings portion of the NRL.

      News ltd are not operating on both sides of the negotiating table ,and if you believe Pemberton,Grant,et al are news Ltd patsies bending over to their wishes,well good luck.Please do not underestimate the business acumen of the guys on the commission.

      If ch10 and News Ltd get the TV contract.I will jump for joy 1) because it will get national FTA coverage on main and HD channels and b) because Foxtel will have paid the right amount.Matter of fact,if SBS was prepared to pay $1b that woul allso please me.

      Without Pay TV many of the codes in this country would be in deep ,you know what.
      Your last line lost me??????

  • Roar Guru

    February 22nd 2012 @ 9:22am
    SportsFanGC said | February 22nd 2012 @ 9:22am | ! Report

    Why do the clubs need a union when there is an IC?

    Was not the point of the independent commission to run the game independently without continual club interference?

    Crosscoder do you think that the clubs are simply going to accept a decision that they don’t agree with? If they have the power to remove commissioners will the threat not come through from the clubs to back their idea or face the sack?

    Not sure this is a positive move for the game considering they took so long to get the IC in place, now the clubs want to be right there again to undermine its authority at the very opportunity!

    • February 22nd 2012 @ 2:10pm
      Crosscoder said | February 22nd 2012 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

      The IC is there to oversee the structure and financial income of the competition.
      No ! any group in their right mind would not just accept a decision if it had no merit. If the clubs don’t agree with a decision they can approach Gallop,with a spokesperson and convey their feelings to onpass to the I.C.They can hardly hold a gun to their head.

      What is the majority to get rid of a commissioner? .From memory there are the 16 clubs,1 each from the NSWRL and QRL and the 8 commissioners.
      The 16 clubs on their own can’t remove commissioners.
      We also have 16 clubs CEOs some of whom are hardly captains of industry ,compared to 8 people on the commission, who are successful in their own right by growing their businesses in a highly competitive environment.

      See, you state you are not sure,and that is exactly what I am arguing.Give it time and let the dust settle,there is too much inuendo ,too many ulterior motive theories flying around.

      IOW wait till the Tv deal is in place,the salary cap in situ,the expansion aspect attended to before we like Rothfield goes off like an Australia Day skyrocket.
      if we did not have former rl people such as John Grant and Junior Pearce on the board,then one could argue grassroots business may not be given the importnace it should.

      • February 22nd 2012 @ 7:25pm
        mushi said | February 22nd 2012 @ 7:25pm | ! Report

        Why isn’t 16 out of 26 votes a majority?

        Seems to me 14 clubs on their own could depose and comission member.

        • February 23rd 2012 @ 11:04am
          Crosscoder said | February 23rd 2012 @ 11:04am | ! Report

          Yes correct ,I should have clarified my point.
          Ten members may,with the additional support of both the NSW and QRL,vote to remove a Director.
          Fourteen members are required to remove a commissioner without the support of both the NSW and QRL .Should either of these events occur,the remaining Commissioners would appoint a replacement.
          A Director who has been removed from office may not seek re-appointment for a period of three years.

          So Commissioners are not sacrosanct,and neither should they be.
          Everyone in a position of power just as the subordinates ,should be held accountable.Whether they be PMs ,Foreign ministers,or Commissioners.Performance based is the way to go.

          • Roar Guru

            February 27th 2012 @ 12:43am
            Gary Magpie said | February 27th 2012 @ 12:43am | ! Report

            The key point is that the commissioners are not independent and free to run the game in the best interests of the game. The 16 NRL clubs have the power to remove them even if the representatives of the thousands of other clubs around the country disagree.

            Your “fingers crossed” approach is ridiculous. The structure is clear and the inevitable outcome is very logical. Commissioners will have to look after the 16 NRL clubs or face being removed by them.

          • Roar Guru

            February 27th 2012 @ 12:46am
            Gary Magpie said | February 27th 2012 @ 12:46am | ! Report

            And, Crosscoder, you say you should have clarified your point! You originally stated that the clubs can’t remove a commissioner and then you acknowledged that in fact they can!

            Thanks for “clarifying” yourself!

            • February 27th 2012 @ 8:32am
              Crosscoder said | February 27th 2012 @ 8:32am | ! Report

              Admission of an error, wow scoop ,does not diminish the man,unless one was born 2,000 year ago.Last reports I have human frailties.Pity it is not done more often on these threads.

              And GM the commissioners do not have lifetime tenure. A couple have to relinquish after a couple of year,without clubs’ action.
              And thanks for putting the cart before the horse,when the I.C. has been up and running for how long? The twinkling of an eye.The sky is falling in mentality prevails.

              The I.C was aware of the whole structure before they agreed to become commissioners.They were aware of the clubs having their own association as far back as Ocober 2011.If they didn’t believe they would have some autonomy or perform unhindered in matters such as Tv negotiations,structure
              grassroots development etc,they would not have accepted .You of course by your very reasoning,are putting down the capabilities of the high profile people involved on the I.C.If they feel hamstrung,they will tell the clubs,we are outta here.

              The clubs put the I.C there,they want it to succeed and the game also,else they will come out looking chumps.News is not there FFS be happy.
              Let’s see what happens in the next 12 months,instead of running around like a stampeding herd of gnu on the veldt,going nowhere.

  • February 22nd 2012 @ 9:28am
    Ian Whitchurch said | February 22nd 2012 @ 9:28am | ! Report

    This is a risk a number of us – and the QRL – warned against when this model of IC was set up.

    Basically, the first real test for the IC will be when it gets into a brawl with the clubs over money.

    If they win, the IC runs the game.

    If they lose, then the clubs run the game.

    I suggest the commissioners make it clear that its’ one-out, all-out.

    • February 22nd 2012 @ 7:16pm
      mushi said | February 22nd 2012 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

      No they need to win AND suirvive the next vote

  • February 22nd 2012 @ 10:32am
    Patrick Angel said | February 22nd 2012 @ 10:32am | ! Report

    This seemed like a Phil Rothfield beat up. Him and Rebecca Wilson have been gunning for the club chairmen (Nick Politis especially) ever since News was splitting.

    There will always be politics, and whether or not there was an association or not, the clubs were always going to get a lot more, but I think it’s a bit soon to hit the alarm.

    • February 23rd 2012 @ 1:09pm
      Paul said | February 23rd 2012 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

      Dil rothfield and that hag are the 2 biggest hypocrites in journalism. Why wouldnt the clubs form a commision to ensure thier survival. Its about time the focus of RL went onto the clubs, Players come and go but the clubs are what make our game great.

      • Roar Guru

        February 26th 2012 @ 11:36pm
        Gary Magpie said | February 26th 2012 @ 11:36pm | ! Report

        It is not the clubs that make our game great – our game is great on it’s own merit and the clubs, and their executives, prosper from it.

        The national premiership does not need Newtown, it doesn’t need North Sydney either, nor the Crushers, Mariners or Rams. In the future it won’t need the Sharks, the Roosters, the Raiders or the Broncos either. Our game is bigger than any of these.

        There was a time to decide if we loved the game more than our favorite club. I chose the game. Sadly, others chose their clubs and the game is poorer for it. The IC will now run it’s course – but it will not be the enduring model, not in it’s current form anyway. A truly representative body will one day control our game again, but I doubt it will be before these 16 pirates have wringed it for all it’s worth.

        • February 27th 2012 @ 12:14am
          JVGO said | February 27th 2012 @ 12:14am | ! Report

          Nice sentiments Gary. Very well said.

        • February 27th 2012 @ 8:51am
          Crosscoder said | February 27th 2012 @ 8:51am | ! Report

          You are correct the game is bigger than the individual clubs or groups.No argument from me on that point.
          And bearing that in mind, the last time we had representatives from all the bodies,we had more selfish attitudes,more self preservation,without working for the common good.The neglect in the country areas is self evident.Everyone pulling in different directions.Nirvana will never happen,if one expects true representation with self interest.
          The I.C for starters has to set up a system that no one from country or interstate areas ,can be signed to a club until they reach 18 years of age,
          And if the I.C runs its course secures $1b in funding,improves the plight of grassroots in the country and interstate,that each club is financially secure and the game has expanded to heartland and non heartland areas,I will be applauding them from the sidleines for evermore.
          One thing that is completely overlooked is the game’s tradition.

  • February 22nd 2012 @ 4:26pm
    Crosscoder said | February 22nd 2012 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

    No stuffing around with the ARLC.McIntyre system given the flick .

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