DISCORD 2014: Edition Nine

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD

THE aspect of today’s NRL media conference about Cronulla which really stunned Discord was CEO David Smith’s admission that the League wouldn’t have the power to ban Shane Flanagan from Remondis Stadium, even if it wanted to.
Now, on balance we’re not sure Flanagan deserves to be locked out of the stadium. He probably doesn’t. But the idea that someone could perpetrate a much worse crime than that of which he is accused and still walk through the gates of any ground he or she chooses is pretty scary.
We all know of fan “watch lists”, which effectively ban troublemakers from venues. Neo nazi Ross ‘Skull’ May was banned from St George for years. But a player manager who encourages a club to rort the salary cap, a “sports scientist” involved in doping or a bookie who tries to fix matches can still come in? It’s unbelieveable.
Just what can the league do if it can’t stop individuals going to games?
In other sports, drug cheats and the like are banned from being present at matches and/or meets – plus training sessions. The NRL does not have enough power over its clubs. The sooner it incentivises its grants in return for better business practices and accountability from the clubs, the better.
The news regarding Flanagan and Trent Elkin was really no news at all. The NRL considered the appeals against penalties that had already been handed down and rejected them. Flanagan remains banned for the year, Elkin most likely for two years.
By the way, it’s hard to see Cronulla being banned from the finals, despite the threat to that effect from the NRL.
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I AM indebted to colleague (and inventor of the Set Of Six column format) Andy Wilson of The Guardian for the following whispers regarding the end-of-season Four Nations.
Apparently England will play Fiji or Samoa somewhere in Queensland and Australia in Melbourne (I seem to remember there was a long-term commitment between the ARL and the Victorian government to that effect). Steve McNamara’s men are also set to take on New Zealand in Dunedin.
Sounds like quite a cool tournament.
Best wishes to Hull KR centre Sean Gleeson, who may lose an eye after being attacked in Wigan at the weekend. Two men have been detained over the attacks.
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ONE of the things the NRL plans is incentivising clubs to do is more media. Rather than fining teams for not fulfilling media guidelines (which are already looking rather forgotten), the plan is to give them more money if they do what they’re supposed to.
The season kicks off this weekend and there were no big joint press conferences like the one that launched the World Club Challenge, during the week. The game has not been out there spruiking itself as it normally does this time of the year.
There is a feeling among some clubs that the traditional media is becoming increasingly irrelevant and the dispersal of information is better achieved by sending out emails to members and posting things on facebook pages. Instead of courting new fans with publicity, it’s done via databases the NRL has obtained with its takeover of touch football.
You would expect me to rail against that attitude here but in fact I think they may be right in their approach. People are becoming more savvy in the way they consume information and “mass media” does have less power than it once did.
Having said that, clubs are not likely to put out a video to all members revealing their player got in a fight. Would Dragons TV have chased an exclusive interview with the man Craig Garvey allegedly bashed?
So what happens is the clubs get “exclusive” access to good news, and the traditional media finds itself only covering bad news. If the clubs and NRL believe that scenario won’t hurt them, then fair enough. But there’s a gamble involved.
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THANKS, as always, for all the comments on last week’s Discord and this week’s Set Of Six.

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