Rugby League Players Association director Joel Thompson has called for NRL stars to stop crying over “spilt milk” and accept their pay cuts for the greater good of the game.
All 16 NRL clubs have reportedly issued a no-confidence vote in ARL commission chairman John Grant and called for him to be sacked.
The chairmen of all clubs have sent a letter to NRL headquarters asking for Grant’s head, according to News Corp Australia.
They have called for an emergency meeting for a vote on his future amid growing frustration over a failure to come to an agreement on club funding.
Earlier NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg defended Grant and hosed down talk of a move by clubs to oust him.
Tension has risen between the clubs and Grant over the failure to secure their funding agreement, with four club chairmen walking out of a meeting with him Greenberg at Rugby League Central on Wednesday.
The walkout came after the NRL pulled the club funding agreement from the table, arguing that until the collective bargaining agreement and salary cap were agreed upon, it was pointless negotiating that deal.
While it would require 75 per cent of clubs and the QRL and NSWRL to affect change to the commission board, it’s been suggested Grant’s departure could act as a circuit breaker for the growing rift.
But Greenberg had no doubt Grant should remain in charge.
“John’s a good man who works hard and always puts the game first,” Greenberg said on Thursday.
“And he’s continued to do that as the chairman. I have absolute faith in that.”
Club bosses are frustrated that they couldn’t reach an agreement nearly 12 months after signing a memorandum of understanding over funding and they’re concerned they won’t receive as much of the new $1.8 billion television deal as they thought.
Last December, the clubs and governing bodies reached an in-principle agreement that from 2018 club funding would equate to 130 per cent of the salary cap but that deal was never finalised.
Explaining the delay, Greenberg also said the commission and NRL had to be mindful of the welfare of the game overall, including looking after bush and grassroots level football amid concerns about a drop in participation numbers.
“We’ve got some concerns about where we’re heading,” Greenberg said.
“We’re not the only sport concerned about participation trends.
“What that means is we’ve got to think very carefully about our strategy and how we apply funds whether it’s in regional areas in the bush or in the city areas.”
There will be another meeting between Grant and the clubs next week.
Rugby League Players Association chairman Clint Newton said he wasn’t yet concerned that the salary cap for the 2018 season hadn’t been set even though it was proving difficult for some players to negotiate contracts.
“It’s difficult but at the end of the day we don’t want to be rushed into a position that’s not going to provide the players the best possible outcome,” Newton said.
“As long as that takes, we’re prepared to be at the table.”