Peter V’Landys and the clubs got what they wanted: Todd Greenberg’s head, and more power.
Since V’Landys came on board it’s seemed like he’s been trying to undo the successes of the Greenberg regime. His success in building a power base that didn’t involve the self interested clubs was presented as waste. His intelligence in funding a proper digital platform to secure the league’s future was seen as a white elephant. His ability to negotiate a broadcasting deal that set up league as an actual competitor to the AFL and finally provided them with the revenue befitting an organisation of its popularity and success was undermined by V’Landys and his friends in Channel 9 and Fox Sports.
In the coming days, weeks and months we’ll see these successes torn apart. I’m almost certain V’Landys will negotiate a longer broadcasting deal with Channel 9 that will return power to them to treat the game as their personal fiefdom at a fraction of the cost Greenberg had secured. I’ve no doubt the digital arm of the league will he scaled back to succour the partners at fox sports, who desperately need a product that people want for them to remain tethered, albeit increasingly weakly, to the pay TV company. V’Landys will also reduce the expenditure of NRL HQ and tell us it’s a good thing. It is not.
V’Landys, with the support of a now compliant media will strip the central body of any power but his own. There will be no strategic engagement with sponsors, no innovations like Magic Round, or the All-Star game. A new team in Perth or New Zealand is now off the cards. A proper digital operation will be delayed again. Independence of the league from the self-interests of short-sighted broadcasters is now a dream. The clubs that so reviled not being able to bend the league to their own small-minded agendas are back at the table, ready to feast on Greenberg’s carcass. All things go through V’Landys now, and it seems the only people he listens to have had columns dating back to papers being meaningful.
Rugby league has not had many good administrators but Todd Greenberg was the closest we got. He increased revenue by more than 45 per cent. He got the game thinking beyond it’s current borders, to a world where it’s more than just the a game played on the eastern seaboard. Now we remain cursed with small-minded warriors of the game that have no concept of strategy or proper administration, who demand we fight for ideas that no longer exist and do not build the game.
Rugby league is currently at a crossroads. Our game is being run by people who aren’t trying to grow it, who see it as their own plaything to reliving the good old days that never existed. Rarely has someone forced the competition beyond that mind-set. But Todd Greenberg did. And he paid for it with his job.
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