Feeling the heat: Who’s next on NRL chopping block
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg's resignation will put the spotlight on the game's chief financial officer, Tony Crawford, who is believed to have a strained relationship with clubs.
One club CEO told The Daily Telegraph that Greenberg's departure now puts Crawford, who has bumped heads with clubs since the latest broadcast deal was done in 2018, on the ARL Commission's chopping block.
"If Todd Greenberg had to be the casualty to get Nine over the line for a broadcast deal, well I guess that's got to be done. If Tony Crawford has to be the casualty to get the clubs over the line, then Peter V'landys will do that," the club CEO said.
"What we know for sure is that the management team will look very different to what we have now."
Greenberg's relationship with free-to-air provider Channel 9 has come under immense pressure over the last month, culminating in a scathing attack from the network where it accused the NRL of mismanagement and wasting "hundreds of millions" of dollars.
Crawford also found himself on the wrong side of clubs during the coronavirus crisis when they felt they were short-changed on money promised during negotiations to ensure the financial survival of the 16 teams.
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Clubs were promised an immediate payment of $1.21 million to remain operational over the next three months. But payments landed $23,000 short in their respective bank accounts.
One high-ranking club official said that sort of thing had been occurring for the last couple of years and it wasn't until the arrival of new ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys that clubs had a recourse to remedy the problem.
"That's what the NRL have been doing for three years and finally we have V'landys and we can go to him and say this isn't right," he said.
"Greenberg and Crawford have been taking money off us since the original deal. I don't think Tony Crawford liked the original deal struck between clubs and the NRL and so he wanted to take the money back from us inch by inch.
"Greenberg and Crawford want a welfare state where the club is on a drip feed from the governing body instead of having strong, independent and influential clubs."
Clubs also say they didn't receive the full amount of money they had been paying into the game's distress fund.
Every club has been paying a total of $187,000 per year into the fund, making monthly contributions.
Clubs had paid up until March this year but when the money was handed back they only received payments made until January, again leaving them with a shortfall of around $30,000.
An interstate CEO told The Daily Telegraph clubs had been willing to look past the issue, even after Greenberg told clubs the distress fund had been exhausted in an email. But when clubs realised the NRL didn't deliver on the $1.21 million promised in crisis talks they went after the missing dollars.
"When the $1.1 million payment was short, that's when clubs decided to go after the distress fund shortfall," the CEO said.
"They would not have gone after that money had they been paid what they were promised."
Originally published as Feeling the heat: Who's next on NRL chopping block