In the wake of Todd Greenberg’s appointment as NRL Head of Football, I couldn’t help but reflect on the great Aussie movie Crackerjack starring none other than the irrepressible Mick Molloy. “Yeah, let’s form a committee” was the catchcry whenever a problem arose. Next thing you know, they had a chain of committees and, as you can imagine, nothing was ever solved. Please don’t tell me this send up of lawn bowling organisations is actually happening at the NRL. Next thing you know, Judith Lucy will be appointed the Head of Bingo Nights!
In all seriousness, I can’t fathom what is happening with the proposed restructure. In principle, I agree with splitting the NRL into the 7 elements, Head of Football being just one of those elements. What I don’t understand is the NRL hasn’t terminated one single employee. So, they’ve replaced senior management with even more senior management? That’s right. Let’s add another tier of bureaucracy. What the hec, throw in another committee…like we don’t have enough chiefs. I’ve worked for and consulted some of the largest organisations in Australia and I can tell you this structure is always fraught with danger. Decisions typically take forever to make and approve and no one quiet understands their area of responsibility ie there are overlaps. That leads to finger pointing and a political type environment as powerbrokers struggle to push their agendas.
The NRL has over $1 billion to work with. For crying out loud do not waste that money on highly paid executives who are not really adding any value. We already have a Federal Government that does that. What we, as fans of the game, need more than anything else Mr Smith is not E Squared but rather ATC = Accountability, Transparency and Communication. We need to know what your plans are. We need to know what the budget includes (ie where is the money being spent?) and we need a leader who can front the press when there’s a problem rather than curl up into the fetal position. We need a leader who can get on the front foot and show initiatives (isn’t that why David Gallop was removed?)…. and I don’t mean jumping castles and rock band initiatives. We’ve got Judith Lucy and Mick Molloy for that sort of stuff. We need a CEO who understands the game, its culture and its shortcomings not a CEO who doesn’t know the name of our national captain much less “Benji” Barba.
The honeymoon is over Mr Smith. The Ray Hadley spray was totally justified. The handling of the City Country game was a farce. Why was there no response? Gutless and indefensible. You see, Mr Smith, it’s not the NRL that run the game. It is and always will be the FANS. The consumer. The TV viewer. The Pay TV subscriber. The merchandise purchaser. The Club Member. The mum and dad that take the next NRL superstar to training and junior games during the cold winter months. They are the people to speak to Mr Smith. They’ll tell you what you need to do. You only have to do one thing right: LISTEN.
I hope the NRL restructure can facilitate the changes for the better of the game. I hope the right people are selected with the best interest of the fans in mind. I hope rugby league will thrust itself towards its rightful place at the top of the Australian sporting market. I hope we don’t hear the other quote from the Crackerjack movie: “In a nutshell, due to dwindling membership and increased maintenance costs, our economic situation can best be described as….DIRE”….”All those in favour of calling our economic situation dire (hands up)”.
Do you think we have too many chiefs not enough Indians?