UNTIL now, the de rigueur answer to the question “has the ARL Commission been good for the game” was “it’s too early to tell”.
Even the signing of a $1.025 billion dollar TV deal did not necessarily invite a more definitive answer than that. As we said in last week’s column, there was still the vexed question of how it would be spent – and uncertainty over how much groundwork the previous administration should be given credit for in reaching the landmark agreement.
But the signals coming out of League Central in the week since the announcement have been largely positive.
Yes, there will be a fighting fund. Yes, the ARLC is chasing the AFL’s number two administrator and is willing to throw a lot of money at him. No, the cash won’t go straight into the pockets of players. Sure, many of us would have liked stand-alone Origin weekends. We wanted a timetable set for expansion. We don’l like delayed telecasts of Sunday afternoon matches.
But one of the most impressive things emanating this year from Moore Park is silence. There are no leaks, the actions of the commission are largely inscrutable and when there have been secrets to be kept for just a few hours, in the case of the TV deal and David Gallop’s departure, they’ve been kept.
As a journalist, I want to find things out and report them first. But as a rugby league fan, I want my sport to release information in an orderly, dignified fashion. Conducting campaigns and manipulating the media are not the tactics for a multi-million-dollar business. Explain your actions when you are ready to, not every time someone asks.
It all makes my job harder but the operation better. So, has the Independent Commission been good for rugby league? I think we can now safely say yes.
WE are just six or seven weeks away from the start of our so-called ‘international season’ and only a fraction of the games allegedly taking place have been confirmed.
We know Australia will host New Zealand at Dairy Farmers Stadium on October 13. We know Thailand are going to make their debut against the Philippines in Pattaya at week later. But the proposed US v Melbourne Storm game is off and the tri-series involving England, France and Wales is subject to rumours and speculation.
I’ve heard of games at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham and Craven Park in Hull and a final at the new City Of Salford Stadium – but none of this is confirmed.
The same goes for the European Cup, which was to involve England Bravehearts, Ireland, Scotland and Italy. Italy’s involvement seems to be hanging by a thread. Craig Gower told me last week he had been invited to play but had declined, citing niggling injuries.