Under fire ARL Commission boss John Grant admits he is surprised he does not have the personal endorsement of his friend and NSWRL chairman George Peponis after calls for his departure over a funding backflip.
Then again, Grant reckons the events of the past week have left him scratching his head.
Disgruntled NRL clubs have called an emergency general meeting on December 20 in a bid to oust Grant after the ARLC reneged on a 12-month-old funding agreement last Wednesday.
Clubs require a minimum 14 votes from the game’s 26 shareholders – the 16 clubs, QRL, NSWRL and eight commissioners – to remove Grant.
Grant said Peponis’ NSWRL had “put a stake in the ground” by reportedly joining 14 clubs – excluding the NRL-owned Gold Coast Titans and Newcastle Knights – and calling for his head.
Much to Grant’s curiosity.
“That’s surprising. I think the state leagues are about the grass roots, and this discussion is about how we make sure we get the appropriate money to grass roots,” Grant said of Peponis’ stance.
“It’s disappointing NSWRL doesn’t seem to think that is the agenda.”
Bulldogs great Peponis has already been linked to the ARLC chairman role.
But Grant still kept the door open for Peponis to help resolve the funding issue without any blood letting.
“George and I have a good, direct relationship. It’s been built over the last two and half years,” Grant said.
“And George is a sensible man. But he has put a stake in the ground.
“We are saying to him ‘you have got to come and talk’.”
It’s not just Peponis who has raised the ARLC boss’s eyebrows.
Grant admitted he was surprised at how quickly he had fallen out of favour with clubs after the governing body reneged on an agreement to fund clubs 130 per cent of their salary cap from 2018 at a meeting last Wednesday.
He has since extended an olive branch, saying the ARLC were open for funding talks with clubs on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday.
“I must admit I sit there and think ‘I don’t quite understand this’,” he said.
“There are forces at work somewhere that are causing this shift in view on me.
“My relationships across this game on Tuesday were pretty sound – it is disappointing to see the herd shifting in opinion.”
Asked how he would gain the votes required to retain his spot, Grant said: “Talking, encouraging the clubs to come back around the table and have a sensible conversation.
“We disappointed the clubs, clearly, and they have let us know in uncertain terms that we did but we have got to move on.
“This is hugely disruptive and I know we have contributed to that.
“But we need to forget about it and sort this out.”