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SBD Global/April 24, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith Makes Management Changes To League



National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith "finally emerged from the shadows to unveil the game's most significant management shake-up since Super League" -- headed by Todd Greenberg's appointment as head of football, according to Andrew Webster of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Former New Zealand Rugby League CEO Jim Doyle -- "who made his fortune in another life as the founder of GPS company Navman" -- has been appointed COO. Greenberg will not leave his post as Canterbury Bulldogs CEO until Aug. 1. Doyle "will now head two of seven newly created business units at the NRL." Smith: "This is the structure that's going to take us forward into the future. Unashamedly, we've got to build a structure that represents the fact that we've got whole-of-the-game responsibility, we've got a A$1.2B ($1.23B) rights deal and we've got an ambition for growth." The announcement came after "a barrage of criticism" was directed at Smith. NRL insiders said that "the sweeping changes stunned staff members when they were informed yesterday morning" -- even though they had known a shake-up was coming for weeks. Former interim CEO Shane Mattiske "has been installed as head of strategy," with long-time Marketing Manager Paul Kind moved into head of commercial operations, "meaning he will handle broadcast negotiations" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 4/24).

A KEY MOVE: In Sydney, Richard Hinds wrote the appointment of Greenberg "fills a gaping hole." The NRL "will have an empowered, articulate administrator overseeing football operations." One who understands intimately the inner-working of clubs, "and who can shoulder the day to day burden of executing and explaining on-field policy." That, in turn, "will allow Smith to devote his time to improving the game's bottom line, political engagement and infrastructure." It is a move that, for a few hours at least, "should satisfy the blowhards and malcontents who had Smith in the cross-hairs the moment he walked into Rugby League HQ" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 4/23). Also in Sydney, Stuart Honeysett wrote Greenberg admitted that "he has designs on running the NRL, but for the moment he's happy to play second in command and learn from Smith." Greenberg: "I've still got a lot to learn and I've got a lot of development to do and by taking this role and working with Dave, it gives me a huge professional development opportunity to actually learn a lot of the skills that are required to run what is now a billion-dollar business. I don't shy away from the fact that one day I'd like to run the game, but my time's not now" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/24).

MAKING A CASE: In Sydney, Brad Walter wrote Smith "called for the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority to present any evidence of illegal drug use by players as interviews were again delayed." Smith: "The ASADA discussion has been ongoing for a number of weeks as we all know so we are pushing hard with the ASADA team for them to complete their investigation, and we need the investigation to get completed. ... We are continuing to push hard. It is just a question of getting through it. We need to make sure we get the thing complete, and that means getting the interviews done" (SMH, 4/24).
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