NRL clubs vote for Independent Commission

All 16 NRL clubs today stood united as they voted to support plans for the introduction of an Independent Commission (IC) to run rugby league in Australia for the start of the 2010 season.

The historic meeting held this morning at Sheraton on the Park in Sydney was attended by delegates representing all 16 NRL clubs, including CEO’s, chairmen, club coaches and captains.

Club delegates heard a one hour presentation from Restructure Committee Chairman Michael Searle and contributions from fellow members Shane Richardson (CEO Souths) Bruno Cullen (CEO Broncos) and Steve Burraston (CEO Knights).

The mood of the room was buoyant as Searle, the Managing Director of the Jetstar Gold Coast Titans, detailed what the commission would mean to the many stakeholders of the game.

“The fact that we had so many of the club’s represented at the highest level today means that we are on the right track,’’ said Searle.

“Their contribution was positive and there was no hesitation when they were asked to outline their position of the proposed economic model of an Independent Commission.’’

Richardson added:  “16 Chairmen, 16 CEO’s, 16 Captains and 16 coaches were all in the one room and all in agreeance that this is the right way to go. That in itself is a momentus occasion.’’

The motions which were resolved in principle at today’s meeting were:

1) The 16 NRL Clubs represented agreed to create, and to support, an Independent Commission (IC), for the administration of rugby league in Australia;

2) The IC is to be truly independent from its inception in accordance with the criteria outlined in the presentation today;

3) The operative date for the establishment of the IC is to be the date of kick-off of the 2010 NRL season if possible.

All club delegates were taken through the process of change throughout the history of Rugby League in Australia and also presented a snapshot of a number of professional sport models from around the world including the NFL, MLB and the English Premier League Soccer.

One of the more important aspects to the outcome of today’s meeting was the signalling by the clubs that the IC should be totally independent from when it is established.

Committee member Bruno Cullen explained that in the first instance the commissioners will be selected by the Partnership Committee of the ARL and News Limited.

“While the NRL Partnership Committee would select the initial members it wouldn’t be a case of the ARL select three and News Ltd pick three delegates. We would seek from the partners that it would be a truly independent commission with absolutely no allegiance to the existing owners of the game or the stakeholders of the clubs from the date of inception,’’ said Cullen.

A 30-minute Question and Answer session at the end of the presentation gave the opportunity for the clubs delegates to drill down even further and find out more about how the new IC would work. Among the talking points were the game’s TV broadcasting rights, which are up for renewal in 2012.

The meeting ended with all club CEO’s signing a motion which now provides the platform for the changing of the game forever.

“This economic model allows for the profits of the game to be retained by the game and that will allow the game to prosper and become the number one football code in Australia,’’ said Searle.

“The motion will now be given to the NRL Partnership and we are hoping that they will meet in coming weeks to decide the future direction of the game in relation to an Independent Commission’’

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