ARLC chairman Peter Beattie wants clubs and states to vote him out of a job after offering to stand aside from the commission if they agree to remove the three-year stand-down policy preventing his replacement from coming from a position within the game.
While Beattie will step down as chairman next February, the former Queensland premier is likely to stay on as a commissioner to see the finalisation of work he initiated on expansion unless his campaign for constitutional reform succeeds.
Having anointed Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys as the next ARLC chairman ahead of the commencement of negotiations for the next broadcast deal, Beattie wants to ensure the best possible candidates are eligible for the commission.
However, Beattie failed last year in his bid to change Section 32 of the ARLC constitution that precludes anyone joining the commission who has been an officer or employee of the NRL, NSWRL, QRL or any related body corporate, including clubs, within the previous 36 months.
To revoke the clause requires the support of 15 of the 16 NRL clubs and both state bodies but the Bulldogs, Titans and Storm blocked Beattie's 2018 proposal.
"I may fail again, but I am prepared to do that," Beattie said. "I will be talking to both states and all the club chairs about it, and hopefully sometime before February we can change that rule which means that a lot more people can come onto the commission with a history in rugby league."
In what could be considered a win-win position for Beattie, he will resign from the ARLC to make way for the likes of John Quayle, Nick Pappas, Nick Politis, Dennis Watt or Laurence Lancini if his reform agenda finally gets over the line but if not he is likely to continue as a commissioner.
In a wide-ranging interview after announcing his decision to stand down as ARLC chairman, Beattie said growing the game domestically and internationally was crucial to increasing the value of future broadcast rights deals.
Beattie's legacy as ARLC chairman will include:
- Launching the NRLW competition;
- Introducing Magic Round;
- Taking State of Origin to new markets in Perth and Adelaide;
- Creating a Pacific strategy, including last year's Tonga Test and the Oceania Cup;
- Establishing World 9s concept, and;
- Facilitating the acceptance of a Fiji team into the NSWRL competition.
"If you look at all the things that are happening there is more energy in the international game than there was two-and-a-half years ago," Beattie said.
Before he joined the ARLC, Beattie was an outspoken proponent of expanding the NRL competition but he underestimated the complexity of the task.
Greenberg is due to report back to the ARLC later this year on a future footprint for the game but a decision is likely to come down to whether the broadcasters support another team in Brisbane and/or elsewhere, such as Perth.
With clubs receiving annual grants of $13 million each, the NRL would need to find increased revenue to support new teams.
"We have got a retreat at the end of October and Todd will report back on the footprint. He will be reporting on what we can do with the footprint and that involves a lot of discussion with the broadcasters, what is the capacity or what is the appetite to have an extra team or two teams," Beattie said.
"It's easy to say you are going to do it but you have got to take your broadcasters with you. It's a partnership and we have got a vested interest in that if the broadcasters do well, we do well.
"As someone who has been a Queenslander all my life I would love to see an extra team there but you have got to stack it up and you have got to remember that the deal that was done means we give clubs more [funding] than the salary cap.
"Unless we can find another revenue source we're up against it. The agreement that was done does not help us with expansion but there are many ways to look at how we unscramble that egg."
Beattie backed Greenberg to continue as CEO by activating a two-year renewal option in his contract in 2020 and said V'landys had the numbers among the other commissioners to succeed him as chairman next February.
"I will be 67 in November and you need a younger person to get into the media rights deals that will happen over the next few years and I just think that Peter is better equipped to do the job," he said.
"I have a good relationship with all the commissioners but if you see someone who is better to do the job than you my philosophy has always been that you let them do it."
There is no plan to commence negotiations for the next broadcast deal yet but the NRL is preparing to open talks well before the current deal expires at the end of the 2022 season.
With more people watching matches on mobile phones, there is likely to be a significant increase in the value of digital rights but free-to-air and pay-television were still vital to the game's future.
"There are changes going on that are technology changes that have nothing to do with rugby league and there are cultural changes too," Beattie said.
"Less people are watching free-to-air, that's a fact and it has nothing to do with football but rugby league's share of that is increasing so we are a very valuable product for Foxtel and behind the pay-wall, as well as free-to-air.
"It's really important for us to have a big free-to-air presence as well as a big presence behind the pay-wall. We need both and they are things we will negotiate."