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NRL clubs push for Grant's resignation

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/11/2016 Steve Zemek

NRL clubs are in open revolt against ARL Commission chairman John Grant, as Penrith supremo Phil Gould savages the governing body's handling of club funding.

It's understood representatives from all 16 clubs have signed a letter, calling on Grant to resign, and asking for an emergency meeting to vote on his future.

The two parties look set for a showdown, with NRL boss Todd Greenberg on Thursday publicly backing Grant.

The dispute centres on club funding after the NRL on Wednesday had removed from the table an in-principle agreement which had been put together last year.

Grant requires the support of just four clubs to survive, however with all 16 chairmen and chairwomen signing a letter asking for his resignation, he appears to be on thin ice.

Representatives from Canterbury, North Queensland, Cronulla and Melbourne on Wednesday walked out on a meeting with the governing body after the agreement to fund clubs at 130 per cent of the salary cap was pulled.

Greenberg on Thursday denied the deal was dead and buried, insisting the NRL simply wanted to concentrate on negotiating the collective bargaining agreement and salary cap first.

However Gould, one of the most-powerful men in the game, took to Twitter to refute Greenberg's claims and accused Grant of going back on his word.

He accused the NRL of "reneging on the previously agreed funding model", among other complaints.

Greenberg defended Grant and hosed down talk of a move by clubs to oust him, saying he had no doubt he should remain in charge of the independent commission.

"John's a good man who works hard and always puts the game first," Greenberg said on Thursday.

"And he's continued to do that as the chairman. I have absolute faith in that."

Club bosses are frustrated they haven't reached an agreement, nearly 12 months after signing a memorandum of understanding over club funding, and are concerned they won't receive a fair share of the $1.8 billion television deal.

Explaining the delay, Greenberg said the commission and NRL had to be mindful of the welfare of the game overall, including looking after bush and grassroots-level football amid concerns about a drop in participation numbers.

"We've got some concerns about where we're heading," Greenberg said.

"We're not the only sport concerned about participation trends.

"What that means is we've got to think very carefully about our strategy and how we apply funds, whether it's in regional areas in the bush or in the city areas."

Another meeting between Grant and the clubs was scheduled for next week.

Rugby League Players' Association chairman Clint Newton said he wasn't yet concerned that the salary cap for the 2018 season hadn't been set even though it was proving difficult for some players to negotiate contracts.

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