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The unofficial start of the 2013 season is just days away, and the opening premiership round something like six weeks away.
Given the number of unresolved issues that will impact on the premiership in key areas, you would have thought we were at the end of the season not the start of it.
Here are just a few issues:
- The agreement between the ARLC and the players on payment levels etc is unresolved.
- The radio rights for 2013 and beyond have not been resolved, or at least not been announced. That is becoming a farce as a certain radio network is already promoting its "expanded" coverage).
- The television rights for broadcasts into New Zealand has not been finalised.
- There are real problems with securing major sponsorships, especially in clubs which have not done well and have low fan bases.
So much for the new era of streamlined, accountable, efficient, modern and grass roots focussed administration which the independent commission is supposed to be delivering!
As I wrote before Christmas I am profoundly disappointed with the "performance" of the ARLC.
Having shown David Gallop the door with almost indecent haste, the selection of his replacement turned into a farce, made even worse when the final choice could not even name who was the Captain of the Kangaroos! And he does not even start work until a few days time.
What a difference from the ARU - which chose a CEO passionate about his rugby, and his knowledge of it...and an outstandingly successful businessman.
The new CEO of the ARLC might prove to be exceptional - but the announcement of his appointment ended up being a PR disaster.
He needs to hit the ground running.......to say the least!
I read and interview with him at the weekend and it was, at best, underwhelming.
But what the whole game needs, and needs desperately, is leadership from the top that all stakeholders can have confidence in.
Are we getting that today?
I hardly think so!
The arrival of the new CEO (finally) may change things, but it needs to. And it needs to without any more delay.
I worry about the complacency with regard to the state of the game today.
Churning out statistics on viewing numbers, crowd numbers (based on highly suspect counts at some grounds) and so on can get nauseating.
What we are not hearing enough about is the true state of the game at the "grass roots" levels.....in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, the corridors between Brisbane and the Sunshine and Gold Coasts, and in regional centres such as Armidale in NSW and Toowoomba in Qld.....and the smaller towns across regional areas where the pressure on the game largely brought about by economic circumstances has grown immensely.
I wish I could be more optimistic.
The available evidence simply does not justify me being so.
I don't just want the game to be as good as it was last year. Given the additional revenue from television rights it needs to be much better than last year!
We now have a revenue base much closer to what the AFL has.
The excuse that we don't have the funds to meet the challenge from other codes is no longer valid.
We need a robust administration - one with a vision, one which has the right focus.
I wonder if I am simply asking for too much?