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Third-party overhaul high on agenda at NRL CEOs conference

The NRL will sit down with all 16 clubs at next week’s CEOs conference to brainstorm ideas around the overhaul of the third-party arrangement system.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg doesn’t want to stop players from earning additional funds from outside of the sport, however he admitted the existing current system is flawed.

He also revealed a desire to address a potential transfer window after an off-season of unprecedented movement in the player market.

The number of third-party arrangements, which are meant to be at arm’s length from the clubs, have decreased over the past two years mainly as a result of the fear instilled following the salary cap scandal at the Parramatta Eels.

The TPA system is largely considered a blight on the game and fans have been calling for it to be scrapped to ensure more transparency surrounding contracts and additional payments made to players.

“We're going to talk very openly about the challenges of the current system and ways to improve it and then we're going to take some of those learnings to the RLPA who have also demonstrated in our CBA negotiations they're very open to looking at the TPA system,” Greenberg said.

“It's clear we need change, it's clear we can evolve and modernise TPAs. I'm really, really encouraged by our profile players in the game being able to earn extra income outside of their contract fee. When I see Billy Slater on a billboard in Melbourne promoting a company, it's a good thing for Billy and a great thing for the game.

“So we need to balance our expectations about our elite athletes and stars in the game continuing to derive additional income, which also sets them up for their careers after football against some of the challenges the current system has. I hope we'll spend a few months at the beginning of this year finding ways to come up with a new system.”

The TPA discussion is high on the agenda of next week’s CEOs conference, however Greenberg isn’t sure what the ideal replacement system should look like.

“I don't, but I know some of the challenges with the current one though,” Greenberg said.

“When I talk to people who have issues with TPAs, I hear a lot of problems but I don't hear a lot of solutions. That happens quite often in the game.

“I think the club CEOs want to have a strong voice in this and I'm looking forward to having a discussion with them next week. Ian Prendergast and the RLPA have been very good and very open about the concept of change.”

When I talk to people who have issues with TPAs, I hear a lot of problems but I don't hear a lot of solutions.

Todd Greenberg

Another big talking point over the off-season has been in regards to the number of players being released or asking for a release from their contracts with their respective clubs.

“There has been a lot of player movement which has created a lot of content for people and debate for fans,” Greenberg said.

“But I also understand the flip side that fans get disillusioned when players are leaving. The short answer is we have an agreement with the RLPA to consider other options for the transfer window. If we go back in history the game has changed a number of times without maybe finding the perfect solution. In saying that I'm not sure there's a silver bullet without a perfect solution, but we will look at it again this year.

“I'm really open to haveing discussions with both the players and clubs about this. The players enjoy free trade agreements under their CBA and that's a good thing for players.”

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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