Gus Gould torches ‘disrespectful’ NRL

Rugby league guru Phil Gould has penned a scathing hit-job on the NRL where the former Penrith supremo accuses top officials of shambolic financial mismanagement.

Gould’s stunning accusations of the NRL treating the Nine Network like its personal piggy bank comes just days after Channel 9 sensationally launched a public attack on the NRL in a statement that accused the game of “squandering” millions in broadcast revenue.

It was earlier revealed Channel 9 reportedly wants the NRL to abandon the 2020 season — allowing the broadcaster to hold onto the majority of its $125 million per-season TV deal with the NRL.

However, Gould claims Nine’s powerplay is entirely reasonable — when considered against the NRL’s latest request for a financial lifeline.

The 61-year-old on Sunday accused the NRL of habitually turning to broadcast partners Nine and Foxtel for cash advances and cheap loans — even before coronavirus restrictions suspended the 2020 season and left the game in a perilous financial position.

In a weekly column for The Sydney Morning Herald Gould portrays the NRL as irresponsible and “staggering” financial mismanagement.

“If you knew the real truth behind the NRL’s financial management over a long period of time you would be shocked,” Gould wrote.

“If you knew the number of times the NRL has had to lean on broadcasters for advances, loans and renegotiations of their existing contracts to make up for financial shortfalls, you would be staggered.

Peter V’landys and Todd Greenberg.Source:AAP

“You have no idea how often television broadcasters have bailed out this game from financial embarrassment, only to see the game knocking on the door again looking for more assistance.”

Gould says Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys will meet with Channel 9 chief executive Hugh Marks on Tuesday to clear the air over the falling out surrounding the NRL’s decision to push ahead with a 2020 season without consulting its free-to-air broadcaster.

He claims the 2020 season cannot satisfy its contractual arrangements with Nine — even if it presses ahead with a full 24-round home and away season, leaving Nine furious with the game’s attempt to shake as much money from its broadcast partners as possible.

I would imagine he (Marks) found it strange, if not disrespectful, that Nine had not been invited to any of the discussions regarding a revised competition structure for this year, starting dates and potential venues,” Gould wrote.

“He was made aware the NRL was about to announce a recommencement date on Thursday. As of late Wednesday night, no one from the NRL had contacted Nine to advise them of this decision, nor the reasons behind it.”

Gould says he has hope Nine’s attack on the NRL could finally be the circuit-breaker that stuns the NRL into finding a financially stable model for the future of the sport.

Phil Gould has no respect for NRL HQ.Source:Getty Images

The NSW State of Origin icon says he has hope the falling out could prove to be a “defining moment” in the history of the sport.

He earlier cautioned against the NRL’s plan to push ahead with any season proposal that forces NRL players to be kept “like greyhounds” in bubbles for an extended period.

“Facilities aren’t the problem, it’s what is going to be cost effective but also keep the players healthy and looking after their mental health and welfare, and not treating them like greyhounds where we lock them in a kennel every week and then we bring them out on weekends,” Gould said on his podcast, Six Tackles with Gus.

He said basing the competition in Sydney would be most logical.

“Looking at the scenarios that they’ve thrown up … the one that makes the most sense to me is to have them based here in Sydney,” he said.

“Simply because there are nine teams living in Sydney. Those teams could return to their homes.

“We don’t have to completely isolate them in motels and in complete shutdowns in isolated areas.

“If they are safe in their homes at the moment, then going to and from training or games shouldn’t be a difficult ask. And that would alleviate some of the cost and some of the pressure on the players as well.

“For our footballers, I couldn’t imagine locking them away in barricaded circumstances.

“Sure they get paid a lot of money but there is a human element as well, and I’m

not sure the players would do well with that isolation.”

— with AAP

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