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SBD Global/December 11, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

ARL Commission Chair Talks Tough On Salary Cap Ahead Of Wednesday Meeting

Australian Rugby League Commission Chair John Grant has "given players an ultimatum over the salary cap dispute -- come to the party or we'll determine your pay," according to Josh Massoud of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Grant revealed that the commission was "ready to independently set next year's salary cap" should a new Collective Bargaining Agreement not be struck by February. With negotiations now certain to drag into '13, time and patience on both sides of the bargaining table "are eroding fast." While adamant players have "discussed various boycotts as a trump card, Grant showed the ALRC's hand was equally bullish." Grant: "If the two parties cannot agree, then the commission is going to make a decision. That's our responsibility as a commission" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/11).

SITTING DOWN TO NEGOTIATE: In Sydney, Glenn Jackson reported Grant has hinted that he "may be prepared to compromise" over his desire for a A$225M ($236M) future fund, but maintained that it was "always his hope that the administration would have more than double that amount at its disposal." ARLC officials and the Rugby League Players' Association will meet on Wednesday, with the future fund -- money the commission hopes to bank to carry out a five-year strategic plan -- "expected to be central to the negotiations." Asked whether he was willing to compromise on the A$225M set aside for the future fund, Grant said: ''We'll see. We'll have to wait and see. As I said to the players, the future fund is A$225M, but the costs of implementing the strategic plan is considerably more that that'' (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 12/11).

DEVELOPING A PLAN: In a separate piece in the DAILY TELEGRAPH, Massoud reported for most of this year, the commission and its consultants "have analysed the opposing codes and tried to calculate the investment required to match them long-term." The ARLC also wants to "pay-off local councils and ensure a fair proportion of junior playing fields are rectangular -- not oval." The commission also plans to "expand rugby league into new frontiers" and to "develop an in-house media unit that could put the game in a better bargaining position ahead of the next broadcast rights deal." Grant said, "We came up with A$300M more than A$225M" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/11).

NOT TAKEN FOR GRANTED: In Brisbane, Chris Garry noted Queensland Rugby League Chair Peter Betros said that ARLC "cannot afford to take Queensland's love of league for granted." He said that there had been "tendencies in the past for National Rugby League heavies to take Queensland's passion for league as a given." Betros said, "We must keep reminding John Grant how important we are to the game. We are a heartland of rugby league. I'm sure some people in Queensland do think we were taken for granted at times in the past because of that" (COURIER MAIL, 12/10).
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