Respected rugby league journalist Phil Rothfield has blasted Channel 9 once again for its blistering attack on the NRL, accusing the network of double standards.
Last week Nine released an extraordinary statement accusing NRL’s “bloated head office” of squandering millions of dollars and excluding the broadcaster from discussions about what the season will look like as it tries to resume amid the coronavirus crisis.
Veteran Daily Telegraph writer Rothfield wrote a column this week saying Nine – the sole free-to-air TV broadcaster of NRL games — was out of line. He also criticised Nine commentator and former Penrith supremo Phil Gould for taking a swipe at the NRL.
Rothfield, who was open about making TV appearances on Fox Sports, the NRL’s other broadcast partner, held his ground in a radio interview today, maintaining Nine should have taken a different approach if it had gripes with the league.
“They’re running this catchcry on their network, ‘We’re in this together,’” Rothfield said on the Big Sports Breakfast. “All their personalities from Tracy Grimshaw and Peter Overton are saying, ‘Let’s all stick solid, we’re going through tough times.’
“And then they have this almighty whack at the NRL last week.
“I agree the NRL has been mismanaged, but I thought it was inappropriate timing.
“I was also a bit disappointed that a Nine spokesman was quoted and no one was prepared to actually put their name to it.
“We’re talking about an act of God here, aren’t we; no one saw this (coronavirus) coming.”
Rothfield also compared Nine’s relationship with the NRL to that between the AFL and its free-to-air broadcast partner, Channel 7, before saying any issues Nine had with rugby league bosses should have been dealt with in private.
“The AFL has applied to the NAB bank for a $500 million loan. Are Channel 7 kicking them, their major broadcast partner?” Rothfield said.
“They (the AFL) are getting a lot more support from their partners and in times like this we do have to stick solid and, if you do want to criticise the NRL, do it behind closed doors.
“I just thought it was unnecessary.”
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The NRL has come under fire for its leadership.Source:AAP
Nine is meeting with Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V’landys today as the two parties attempt to smooth things over after the NRL announced it was hoping to resume its season on May 28.
The campaign was suspended after two rounds because of the global pandemic.
On the weekend, NRL chief executive officer Todd Greenberg rejected Nine’s claims it had not been offered a seat at the table to discuss what the season’s future held.
“I’ve heard a couple of times that we have had no consultation with broadcasters. I can tell you categorically that’s not true,” Greenberg told the Continuous Call Team.
“I have met with all three broadcasters in the past two weeks, and that includes Nine, Foxtel and (international rights holder) Sky TV.
“All of them have been in consultation with us the whole way through leading into these Project Apollo meetings and the concept of the structure of the tournament.”
Nine’s broadside was interpreted by some as a direct attack on Greenberg’s leadership. Nine sports reporter Danny Weidler, who repeatedly made it clear he did not speak on behalf of his network, believes that to be the case, saying the relationship between the CEO and broadcaster was “strained”.
Weidler said he was “absolutely blown away” by Nine’s savage spray last week, and believes the network was particularly upset when details of a meeting it had with Greenberg were leaked to the press.
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“That really annoyed Nine,” Weidler said on the Big Sports Breakfast.
“There is a mistrust when it comes to Todd Greenberg and I think that’s shown by the fact today Peter V’landys is the person representing the NRL at a meeting with the Nine Network.
“I think the comments were largely directed at Todd Greenberg.
“His relationship with Nine – I don’t know if it’s broken, but it’s definitely strained – and that’s not a good thing for him.”
There has been speculation Nine may walk away from the NRL if it remains unhappy, but Weidler reported he has been told the broadcaster wants to “maintain a relationship with rugby league”.
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