Australian Rugby League Commission set for historic overhaul as agreement reached
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The Australian Rugby League Commission will undergo the most radical change since its inception after agreement was finally reached on constitutional reform.
The Queensland Rugby League, the last stakeholder to give the states and the clubs seats on thecommission, finally endorsed the reforms required to install a10-person board.
Under the new arrangement, the ARLC will comprise six "independent" directors, two representing the 16 NRL clubs and two from the states, NSW and Queensland. Stakeholders were informed that an agreement had been reached at a meeting of club CEOs and chairs at Moore Park on Thursday. It's expected the changes will be implemented at a landmark commission meeting in February, which is expected to mark the moment inaugural chairman John Grant steps down. Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie, a recent addition to the board, is the favourite to take his place.
The agreement to proceed with change brings to an end a long period of at times strained negotiations. The clubs, concerned about the direction of the NRL, pushed for greater representation but couldn't agree on what shape it would take. Eventually they arrived at a consensus but were thwarted by the QRL, who – like the NSWRL – had the right to veto any constitutional reform. The QRL demanded direct representation on the board – through its chairman, Bruce Hatcher – a concession which has been granted, at least for an 18-month period. They raised other concerns, namely about commitments to grassroots funding and the protocols surrounding how meetings were run.
Finally placating the QRL means one of the game's big-ticket items has finally been resolved just a week after the NRL and the Rugby League Players' Association signed off on a $980 million collective bargaining agreement. Stadium funding and how it is allocated is also expected to be signed off in the coming weeks.
While Grant is poised to step down from the Commission, he is unlikely to be lost to rugby league. He is also a director of the RLIF board, but is tipped tobecome its next chairman.