It’s been almost a fortnight since the NRL suspended its competition indefinitely and was asked point blank if the game would be alive next year.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys was adamant it would.
“(But) I can’t guarantee it’ll be in the same way it is at the moment,” he admitted.
“And no one knows, no one can tell us how long this pandemic is going to last.”
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Peter V’landys has so far delivered what he has promised.Source:AAP
V’landys, who has been in the role for less than six months, described the unprecedented shutdown as the “biggest financial crisis the game will ever face”.
Soon after, broadcasters and sponsors stopped their lucrative quarterly instalments as the impact of the coronavirus wreaked havoc across the globe.
It prompted serious fears over the survival of all 16 clubs, who immediately shredded their administration and coaching staff in a bid to cut costs.
Players went home with gym gear from the club headquarters to train in isolation, but nothing weighed heavier than concerns over their next pay cheque.
So, both the clubs and players went knocking on the doors of league central desperate to assess how much money was left in the coffers.
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The answers they found painted a bleak picture: Just $100 million in cash reserves and reports they spent $182 million annually in running costs. Doing the maths was a depressing and frightening exercise.
Yet, after almost two weeks of uncertainty that would’ve normally induced in- fighting, the game appears more united than ever in its bid to survive.
When clubs were guaranteed three months of grants worth a combined $60 million on Monday, V’landys was hailed for making the clubs a priority.
One club boss, who wished to remain anonymous, said he’d never seen more inspiring leadership from another administrator in his 15 years in the game.
“He done a wonderful job last week. He thought of the clubs. We were all going to get less payments until he stepped in,” the club boss said.
V’landys with NRL CEO Todd Greenberg.Source:AAP
“We’re going to survive.
“It’s the first time for a decade that you’ve had in somebody there that realises the customer is the most important person, and that’s the football clubs.
“It’s a godsend that he came. I don’t know where we’d be if he hadn’t arrived.”
The players agreed to a 46 per cent pay cut as a worst-case scenario, V’landys was also being hailed for putting the stars of the game first.
Some suggested the man responsible for leading the racing industry through the equine influenza crisis was critical to in negotiations with the players’ union.
Rugby League Players Association boss Clint Newton, himself just days into his role, was taken aback by V’landys’ approach to the potentially volatile talks.
Newton described V’landys, renowned as a fierce negotiator, as emphatic.
“I think that’s something that I believe set him apart from many leaders that I’ve had to deal with,” Newton said.
Clint Newton has been impressed in dealing with V’landys.Source:AAP
“I think what Peter’s been able to demonstrate in his short amount of time is, one, his willingness to listen. And two, his ability to deliver on what he promises.
“They’re two critical traits that, if you’re looking to build trust, listening and doing what you say are of the highest priority.”
And, just like that, the league looks destined to live on, even if it remains unclear, as V’landys warned, where, when and how the competition will be structured.
A new committee, labelled the Project Apollo team and led by commissioner Wayne Pearce, has been tasked with looking at all the options on the table. Whether it’s placing all 16 teams remotely, splitting the league into conferences, or restarting with State of Origin, V’landys is bold enough to try them all.
He’s determined to resume the competition by July, despite the borders of Queensland and New Zealand remaining closed.
Then there’s the more onerous task of attempting to reconstruct the base costs of the game, which all stakeholders concede must be reset.
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga says both V’landys and chief executive Todd Greenberg, should be proud of the leadership they’ve shown in a time of crisis.
“I’ve been pretty impressed with Peter. And Todd, too. They’ve really communicated well I thought, through it all,” Meninga said.
Mal Meninga has been impressed in his dealings with V’landys.Source:Getty Images
“There’s obviously uncertainty at times, and it creates anxiety and a bit of angst amongst people in the game. Certain things need to happen behind closed doors.
“But publicly they’ve been really good for the game as well. From a leadership point of view, the game should be proud of them.”
Originally published asWhy V’landys arrival was ‘moment of inspiration’ for NRL
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