It started as a lot of smoke but this quickly becoming a reality. The trouble for a club like ours is we are indebted to the NRL and therefore are obliged to remain loyal to them.
The basic break down here is that all clubs sign a participation contract with the NRL, this used to be done at the same time, however the NRL in its wisdom have made all four clubs that owe them money sign new agreements so as to stagger the result and lessen the chance of the clubs using their participation as a bargaining tool. The four clubs are, Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra, Newcastle and the Titans.
The 12 other clubs want to be stakeholders of the game, they dont want to be fed bare minimum grants by the governing body and they want to have a greater say on the distribution of funds and the running of the game.
The NRL since the creation of the Independent Commission have smelt of corruption and bumbled from one failure to the next. The most concerning thing for these other 12 clubs is the NRL seem to have a complete lack of understanding for the fabric of the game the are looking after. They implement business decisions with no Rugby League nous.
Youve only got to look at this ridiculous shoulder charge interpretation a couple of weeks out from the finals to see this in evidence. The players do not understand the new rule, they have not had time to change habits of a lifetime. No other sporting body in the world would treat its product in this way. Could you imagine FIFA changing something equivalent and as habitual as a bracing for impact with the shoulder, it just would never happen mid season.
So in short as a result of the NRL’s failings the other 12 clubs who have yet to sign agreements with the NRL are getting together and talk is they will form a break away comp with its own television deal. They will look at expansion ahead of trying to win over the other four clubs. A second Brisbane team, a team from Perth etc . This will leave the four NRL aligned without a competition to play in.
Wests Tigers unfortunately are on the wrong side of this, an NRL appointed board does not help. All we have are some decent TV ratings and a strong and popular emblem. Our region and supporter base would quickly be be swallowed up by the other surrounding clubs. After the last couple of years and the absolute rubbish the board, coaching department and football players keep offering up fans are so jaded that if and when this does eventuate we may not even put up a fight.
Sad times but i could see this coming, the Independent Commission have ruined the game, rusted on fans are walking away. Changes made to the third party agreements have seen the rich clubs return to dominance, this has made the salary cap David Gallop worked years on getting right a complete joke. There are reports there are at least 12 officials at NRL headquarters on a salary of over 500k, almost all of them have never played the game or in some cases were not even fans of the game before their appointment.
The most recent development has been the bungling of the TV deal, Ch 7 & 10 both wanted to put forward a proposal for the rights. Both were not even invited to sit down and chat. Smith worked out a deal with Gyngel, reports are this deal activates bonuses in Smith’s contract that will see him walk away with a couple of million dollars. Most disturbingly Fox Sports are so pissed off, and rightly so, they had been willing to go large on NRL but instead Smith did the deal with 9 and left Fox with the 4 worst games of the round and expect them now to cough up millions for the pleasure. Murdoch has turned his attention to AFL in protest.
What should have been the NRL finest moment with this TV deal has now turned into the one thing that will push these other 12 clubs over the edge. Without the bungling of the TV deal this was all talk and suggestion, a bargaining tool even, now through Smith’s failings this a fire that will not be put out anytime soon.