The independent commission works. Could it work outside Australia?

Steve Mascord Columnist

By Steve Mascord, Steve Mascord is a Roar Expert

 , ,

9 Have your say

    Australians love a good commission. When there’s corruption, they have a Royal Commission and when there is the threat of corruption in sport, they have everything run by an “independent commission”.

    The events over the past few days around the ARLC have been a victory for the commission model. Peter V’landys and Amanda Laing have been added as commissioners while at the same time, the clubs and states failed in their bid for representation when three clubs voted against constitutional reform.

    I’d imagine when the word “reform” was first coined, it was neutral in meaning. But it has long since become a positive word, linked with progress and stream-lining.

    In that context, this was not reform. This was regression. The state leagues shouldn’t even exist – it should be NRL NSW and NRL Queensland just like it’s NRL Victoria and and NRL WA.

    And the clubs, as we all know, are too self-interested to be trusted with the honey jar.

    Constitutional “reform” should be swept quietly under the carpet and never be spoken of again.

    But when we look at what is happening in rugby league elsewhere, perhaps the commission model – which has just staved off another attack of the self-interest bots – might be a solution.

    Imagine an independent commission, free of anyone who has served at a club or at the RFL in the last three years, taking over the sport in England with the imprimatur of Super League teams.

    ARLC chairman John Grant

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    Eddie Hearn could come on board without having an executive role. So could the latest man linked with the RFL CEO role, Everton CEO Robert Elstone, and another contender, Phil Clarke.

    Oh, I know the likes of Wigan and Hull would never agree to this – but it’s fun to dream.

    And, you know, the independence model didn’t save rugby league in New Zealand, which has just parted with its latest chief executive Alex Hayton. Motu Tony would have been a good replacement but he’s agreed to join Baseball New Zealand.

    But if things get nasty between the top Super League clubs and what we used to call Red Hall before the incremental decamp to Manchester was announced, the Independent Commission model might be a useful circuit breaker.

    It could be thrown up as a solution when nothing else can be agreed upon.

    What about at international level?

    Constitutional reform has already been touched upon so that the chairman, Nigel Wood, could become the CEO and an Australian with no official role in the ARLC, John Grant, could become its chairman.

    But what if the RLIF had a truly independent commission? People who have not held a role with a national federation for three years, with a variety of skills from a variety of countries?

    You’re right. They’d have no authority. But do the former CEO of Super League and the former chairman of the ARLC have authority when they have no connection to those bodies anymore?

    Perhaps an RLIF independent commission could liaise with a nuts-and-bolts old school board about delivering on it’s decisions. “We need an umbrella sponsor for all internationals,” says the Independent Commission. “OK, here’s what it will take,” says the traditional board.

    The European Federation has just advertised for a director with a certain set of skills who also has connections in the Middle East. Yet the global body can’t do any such thing as it is made up of nominees from the constituent countries.

    The kick-off of the NRL at the weekend was an enormous success – great crowds, wall-to-wall media coverage that has gone to another level and good footy.

    The Commission model isn’t the disaster some would have you believe. Thank heavens it survives for another year, at least.

    Steve Mascord
    Steve Mascord

    Steve Mascord has covered rugby league in 15 countries and worked for most media organisations that regularly feature the sport, on both sides of the globe. He started off as an 18-year-old cadet at Australian Associated Press, transferring to the Sydney Morning Herald just in time to go on the last full Kangaroos Tour in 1994. He spent three years at Sydney's Daily Telegraph from 2006 before going freelance at the conclusion of the 2008 World Cup. Steve is the author of the book Touchstones, host of the White Line Fever podcast, partner in international rugby league merchandise start-up Mascord Brownz, and proprietor of, and He is married to Sarah and splits his time between London and Sydney.

    Rebuild announcement

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (9)

    • March 13th 2018 @ 9:17am
      Steve said | March 13th 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      What happened to the tv ratings, they were disastrous. I only watch Fox now but is channel 9 really that bad?

      • March 13th 2018 @ 9:50am
        Justin Kearney said | March 13th 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        Total ratings were around 4 million for 8 games. Fox league had significant increases for most game times.

        • March 13th 2018 @ 12:12pm
          Steve said | March 13th 2018 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

          I didn’t realise it was that bad.

          • March 13th 2018 @ 1:41pm
            Justin Kearney said | March 13th 2018 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            Err thats very good!

    • Roar Pro

      March 13th 2018 @ 11:37am
      Andre Leslie said | March 13th 2018 @ 11:37am | ! Report

      So… do I understand correctly… the ARLC is under threat? What would it get replaced with?

      • March 13th 2018 @ 12:17pm
        Chris Wright said | March 13th 2018 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

        The clubs wanted representation on the board. The commission as such was not under threat just its”Independence”.

        • March 13th 2018 @ 5:23pm
          Mushi said | March 13th 2018 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

          The independence never existed

    • March 13th 2018 @ 3:16pm
      Memphis said | March 13th 2018 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

      The NRL clubs are relying too much on pokies and the clientele is getting older and poorer. Yet somehow the AFL is copping heat from the Unfairfax papers to try to wean themselves off pokies and the NRL gets another free kick. Go figure! However the pokies are a diminishing sector in Australian gambling.

    • March 13th 2018 @ 5:11pm
      Big Daddy said | March 13th 2018 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

      An ideal commission would be to have 1 person from each club that is not a director of such club.
      Way far too many people from a logical point of view.
      Too much input from NSWRL doesn’t make it any easier and does anyone know how a director of commission gets nominated and appointed.
      The only new one I know of is Peter vlandys who I think is CEO of racing NSW.
      The only footballer I know is wayne Pearce an.
      d I think the woman from Harris farm markets
      While the states run separate comps their will always be separate bodies.
      The NSWRL and QRL are just a retirement home home for axed club presidents.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    , ,