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Under-fire Grant admits he's feeling heat

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/11/2016

Under-fire ARL Commissioner John Grant admits he's feeling the heat as he gets set to stare down the defiant NRL clubs baying for his axing.

Grant is set for a showdown with a host of NRL clubs next week after refusing to apologise or backtrack over their funding imbroglio.

After dismissing calls for his resignation, he described the impasse as "a glitch" in relations between Rugby League Central and clubland.

North Queensland chairman Laurence Lancini on Friday continued calls for Grant's resignation and vowed not to deal with him as the parties seek an agreement on club funding.

Grant admitted he was under pressure but was defiant he wanted to remain in the chair for another five years.

"This is rugby league, there's always pressure but that's what we love about it," Grant said on Friday.

"The Commission's job is to look after the whole of the game and that's where you get competing forces. I understand perfectly how clubs feel, we own two clubs.

"We also understand the grassroots needs to be fed because this game is going backwards slowly but determinedly in terms of grassroots participation. We've got multiple things we need to respond to."

The ARLC and clubs are at war after Grant and NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg pulled from the table an agreement to fund each franchise at 130 per cent of the salary cap from 2018.

The funding model, which was agreed to by both parties last year, was set to deliver an extra $100 million to the 16 clubs per year.

However Grant argued that they could no longer afford it with a number of other issues taking precedence, including grassroots funding, taking over the NRL's digital arm from Telstra in 2018 and a sinking fund to support struggling clubs.

Fifteen of the competition's 16 clubs have signed a letter calling for an emergency general meeting where they plan to vote to oust Grant.

Lancini, one of four club bosses who stormed out of a meeting at NRL headquarters on Wednesday after being delivered the news, said he would not back down from his club's demands.

"As far as we're concerned we had an agreement in principle in place that we were acting in good faith to finalise," Lancini told News Corp.

"For us to turn up to a chair's meeting at the NRL to be told that agreement we've been negotiating on for the past twelve months has been taken off the table is disrespectful to the clubs and, as far as we're concerned, not tenable."

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