John Grant’s hopes of an unlikely truce in rugby league’s civil war have taken a hit with angry NRL clubs refusing to return to the negotiating table with the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC).
Enraged by the ARLC reneging on a 12-month-old agreement for extra funding, the clubs were invited to resume funding talks as early as Thursday.
However, the parties issued a joint statement, saying they had postponed any meetings to give them time to “consider their options”.
It’s believed the clubs had signalled they would not attend, and remain steadfast in their refusal to engage in discussions with the ARLC until Grant is sacked as chairman, or the original funding agreement – worth 130 per cent of the salary cap – is back in play.
An emergency general meeting sparked by the clubs on December 20, at which they plan to move a motion of no confidence against Grant, is still set to proceed.
The clubs require a minimum 14 votes from the game’s 26 shareholders – the 16 clubs, NSWRL, QRL and eight commissioners – to remove Grant.
The only clubs that didn’t join the call for the meeting are the NRL-owned Gold Coast and Newcastle.
With the eight commissioners, Titans, Knights and QRL in his corner, Grant would need three clubs to change their mind to survive.
Grant has so far refused to step down, expressing on Tuesday his hope some would swim against the tide and sit down with the commission.
“When you vote as a bloc, you give up your independence. What we’re seeing is a loss of independence of the individual clubs,” he said.
“That needs leadership that says ‘I know we’re not going down the right track here but never be afraid to pull back’.”
Meanwhile, QRL chairman Peter Betros has slammed the clubs for their “destructive” pursuit of Grant’s job.
“I think it’s a completely selfish move,” Betros told News Corp Australia.
“They need to give John a chance to remedy the situation and find a solution for all parties.”