With the failure to complete a $1.7 billion TV and digital broadcast rights deal and an unsettled relationship with NRL clubs, it was no real surprise when Dave Smith stepped down as President of the National Rugby League last October. What was a surprise was that it took five months to announce Todd Greenberg as his replacement.
We don’t need to remind you of some of the gaffs that Smith, a former city banker, made early in his career – from not being able to name Cameron Smith at a press conference to getting players names mixed up and combining Benji Marshall and Ben Barba’s to produce ‘Benji Barba’, some sort of hulking half-back/fullback Frankenstein’s Monster of a rugger player.
At Sportsbet, we think it’s great to finally have someone who knows the game to be at the top of the food chain. Having been CEO of the Canterbury Bulldogs prior to entering League Central as head of football in 2013, his appointment is going to be a popular one with clubs, players, and fans, and his credentials speak for themselves.
But what direction do we think NRL’s new CEO will take the league in, and what impact will these have in the long-term for NRL Odds? Here’s a few ideas…
At the press conference announcing his appointment, Greenberg was adamant in his assessment that the NRL has been lacking stability, and his first priority was to bring everyone together.
“What I mean by that is bring the clubs together, we’re all in this together and the only way we can genuinely succeed and fulfil our potential is to do it together and that will be a big part of my early phase.”
This is music to the NRL club bosses ears, who have been previously warring with Smith over funding issues and the general direction the NRL was going in in regard to the signing of a new free-to-air TV deal with Channel Nine before an agreement was reached over the pay-TV rights.
Any NRL President worth his salt will want to make the sport more popular and find a way to bring the crowds in. Greenberg is no different. His aims are big, but we think he can achieve them.
“More people at stadiums, more people in their lounge room watching our broadcasts and particularly more people watching through our digital platforms. If we get those key priorities right we will absolutely achieve our potential.”
While Dave Smith’s run was successful in making the NRL financially strong, organisationally sound and strengthening the game’s connection to the fans one of the key factors in his downfall was the complete inability to sort out the salary cap issue with the Parramatta Eels.
For those of you who have been living under a rock, the club overspent in each of the four salary cap categories in the 2014 season with each breach amounting to:
- NRL Top 25 – $101,718
- NRL 2nd tier – $233,036
- NYC Top 20 – $60,915
- NYC 2nd tier – $8277
The Eels had been given multiple warnings about breaching the salary caps but took little-to-no steps to address it.
Greenberg has promised that sorting this whole issue is front and centre of his priorities:
“I know people want us to move quickly. We are moving as quickly as we can but we’ve got to deal with facts.”
Despite frequently butting heads with other club bosses during his time at the Bulldogs, Greenberg is a popular choice among the NRL fraternity and fans. And even better he can actually name the Aussie Captain. Phew!