Kent: Why Todd Greenberg’s time was up
A little class was restored at the NRL on Monday.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys meeting with NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg to discuss his departure was both necessary and urgent.
All that remained was when and how.
The whisper went around last Friday that Greenberg was about to be moved on. It was said to be "imminent".
V'landys, in a late Friday night phone call, refused to speculate. All he said was it was "sensitive".
It was totally unhelpful. It was no good even speculating on the story because it was already believed Greenberg would be moved on soon.
Most believed it would come shortly after the season resumed on May 28. Give the game a little time to settle down before taking the boss down.
Friday's whispers, though, brought a focus to Tuesday's ARL Commission meeting. Was it possible, given the timing, that Greenberg's departure might be ratified at the board meeting?
V'landys refused to leak and whatever deal was done was done quickly, with nothing leaked, and Greenberg was given enough time to decide to resign on Monday.
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Finally things are looking up, after looking down last week.
Greenberg spent last week failing again.
The Warriors are in many ways the linchpin for the season resumption to succeed. If they refused to travel to Australia then the competition immediately becomes weaker.
During a phone hook-up last week Warriors chief executive Cameron George complained of being ignored by the NRL.
George had asked for simple details on the plans to relocate the Warriors to Australia. Basic logistics like where, when and how.
The NRL failed to respond to the questions. Emails were ignored.
The Warriors, left hanging, felt disrespected and frustrated. Especially given the sacrifice they were being asked to make.
Finally, during a hook-up between Greenberg, V'landys and George last week the Warriors boss gave voice to his frustration and V'landys listened on, stunned.
He turned his attention to Greenberg.
Why hadn't he dealt with it? How come he had ignored them?
It was basic business in some ways, and so important in others, yet Greenberg failed to give the Warriors any answers.
George's frustration is not an uncommon complaint from the clubs.
They all have a story to tell.
It was clear Greenberg has been busy the past few weeks campaigning to save his job.
Powerbrokers around the game have spoken of their phones buzzing and Greenberg's name lighting up the screen, a call from out of the blue. He was calling as a courtesy, of course, merely to check their pulse. See how they were going.
He was left out of high-level meetings with the broadcasters. He was left off the Innovation Committee, tasked to get the competition started again, and so at one of their early meetings they looked up surprised as Greenberg turned up to drop off some notes and duly stayed on.
In some ways, Monday's decision was a return to the very best of rugby league.
In recent years the NRL has been nothing short of a propaganda unit. Agendas and misinformation were deliberately leaked to mask the poor job being done at headquarters.
Muddy the water, make it hard for the fans to know who to believe.
It went back to the very beginning of the Commission era when incoming ARL Commission chairman John Grant told the clubs they were "going to show you how to make money".
The clubs listened on, stunned, and then watched as the NRL and Commission excluded them from so many major decisions only to foul it up and then try to cover it up.
Just last week, the same week the Warriors were being ignored, V'landys received an email from a club boss complaining of more inaction from headquarters.
When the clubs and NRL negotiated $1.21 million rescue package last month, to get them through May, April and June, the NRL banked their money on April 1 but for reasons nobody is still quite sure held back $23,000 from each club.
It was only when V'landys was made aware that the NRL sent through each club's remaining $23,000.
The NRL has such a dire cash flow problem it had taken to penny-pinching from the clubs, perhaps hoping the amount was so small the clubs would not complain.
It is one small example among many.
It has taken the current crisis affecting the world to fast-track what was always inevitable.
The game has done a poor job of managing its finances through the Commission era but now has a chance to correct itself. In some ways, the COVID-19 crisis will be an opportunity for the NRL.
It has the chance now to correct itself while losing no ground to other sports in the interim because they are being affected, too.
The game finally has a chance to become what it can be. A chance to finally get it right.
To finally get back in the fight and become the biggest football code in Australia.
Originally published as Kent: Why Todd Greenberg's time was up