Off the Wall

Readers outside Queensland probably believe I have something of an obsession with the way Nine treats fans. If I have that obsession, then it is one shared by an extraordinary number of my fellow Queenslanders!

The Brisbane newspapers owned by News Limited conducted an online reader survey last week - and some of the results are interesting.

In response to the question - does 9 have too much influence on the game, no less than 88.24 per cent of respondents said "yes".

And when asked what is the biggest issue in the game the biggest vote went to Nine's control of scheduling, 31 per cent...followed by referees and the loss of players to other codes and overseas both on 26 per cent.

While Brisbane fans have particular reason to dislike Nine's scheduling, I doubt if a Sydney survey would offer a greatly different conclusion!

And to show just how extraordinarily fair Queensland fans are, when asked who was the most expert commentator, the one and only Phil Gould topped the poll! He scored 24 per cent, followed by Peter Sterling on 21 per cent, and our own Wally Lewis on 15 per cent.

Just why Gus has suddenly won favour with Queensland fans is a bit of a mystery.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he was generous in his praise of the Maroons during the recent Origin series? Or perhaps it is due to the fact that he actually is the best "reader" of the game among the television commentary team?

Whatever it is, it is high praise.

What this poll ought to tell David Gallop is that he must ensure there is a competitive race for the television rights post-2012. Nine is on the bugle in Queensland - and that is something the game's administrators cannot ignore.

Yesterday I targeted the referees bosses - Finch and Harrigan - over the deplorable standard of refereeing today.

And what has been their response - to drag Stuart Raper into the equation. Apparently he has some role in reviewing decisions by referees.

And his response is that the referees got some of the calls right and some of them wrong!

What a cop out by highly paid officials!

One of the first challenges facing the independent commission - if we ever get one - must be to shake up the referees ranks, and the way they are managed.