Peter Beattie says he hasn’t been pushed to stand down from the ARL top job and is leaving the post of his own accord while also backing his successor Peter V’landys to be a better Commission chairman than he was.
Beattie initially announced, less than a month ago, that he would stay on until February, when ARLC elections are due. Then he would hand over to fellow Commissioner Peter V’landys.
But after an ARLC meeting in Sydney on Monday, Beattie tendered his resignation allowing the head of Racing NSW to be elected as chairman unopposed. He begins his new role on October 30.
“The bottom line is this is a great day for rugby league because we will have the dream team running the game… that is you’ll have Peter V’landys and his skills as an administrator and Todd Greenberg as CEO,” Beattie said. “And together they’ll be able to take the game forward.
“I believe Peter will be a better chairman than me, particularly when it comes to negotiating a new media deal and strategic planning. If there is someone better to do the job, then you let them do it.”
But Beattie refuted claims it might look like he was pushed out of the job. V’landys is well-connected and has considerable support among NRL club chairs, who will meet on Thursday in one of their regular catch-ups.
“You all know this is my decision… you know [my early exit] has surprised everybody. And I did it for the right reasons. I love rugby league but no one is bigger than rugby league. It is the game that matters,” he said.
“I just saw – and bearing in mind we need a chair to take us through the next round of negotiations for the media deal – we needed someone with more experience there than I do. And Peter does. Everyone knows it was my decision. It was the right thing for the game.”
The current $1.8 billion dollar broadcast rights deal ends in 2022. The new five-year deal starts in 2023.
But Beattie has also been fighting hard for constitutional reform on the ARLC, and to an outsider it might look like he has been manoeuvred out of his role so the clubs and states can ensure a presence at the Commission table.
“They are the masters of their own destiny on those things. Clearly they know the parameters. I’ve circulated all the options they can look at and therefore constitutional change is really a matter for the clubs and the states,” Beattie said.
“They are the stakeholders…. They can determine what the rules are and it’s the job of the Commission to implement them.
"With [NSWRL chair] George Peponis and [QRL chair] Bruce Hatcher there, they are not shrinking violets as you all know, and with club chairs, there’s no shrinking violets among any of them.
"So they know they can put up rules changes. It’s now back in their court.”
The other concern raised with V’landys is that as chair of a powerful, media-driven business like Racing NSW, he would have conflicts of interest when it came to investments, sponsorships and other revenue raising components of the NRL and its partners.
“There’s no conflict of interest. I’ve sat on the Commission with Peter for 18 months – I didn’t know him before that – and I’ve seen everything he does. He’s not only strategic but acts in an ethical and appropriate way,” Beattie said.
Get Caught Up: Round 25
“In terms of NSW Racing they simply buy from Fairfax or News Limited so they are customers. So there’s no conflict with any of the media partners. In terms of the gambling issue, the Commission has open discussions about these issues.
"As you know the NRL in terms of its gambling share [revenue] was behind racing but what he’s done is actually lifted us up.
“I have absolute faith in his integrity. As a premier of Queensland in the post-Fitzgerald [police corruption Royal Commission] era I know exactly about conflicts and Peter has none. If at any time he found that there was one, I know his ethics are such that he would excuse himself from any decision-making.
“He is the right person to take this game forward.”
Beattie will stay on the ARLC until February, as part of the transition period, before elections are held that month. A replacement for Mark Coyne also needs to be found.
“When they find an appropriate good Commissioner, then I’m happy to stand aside,” he said.