Brumbies chief executive Michael Jones’ future at the Super Rugby club remains up in the air, despite winning a legal battle to temporarily keep his job.
The ACT Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an injunction that, under whistleblower protection laws, allows him to stay on as CEO after the board stood him down on March 21.
Jones was stripped of his duties following claims he made about a report into the Brumbies’ finances around the sale of their Griffith headquarters, including during a fiery interview on ABC radio.
The KPMG document is the subject of a police investigation and remains suppressed.
But Justice Richard Refshauge, in his judgment, also effectively granted the Brumbies permission to sack Jones – provided it’s for any other, unrelated reason and with five days written notice.
The Brumbies board welcomed the court’s decision and said it was now free to discuss the issue, including its ability to terminate Jones’ contract, with the club’s key stakeholders.
“Our immediate priority is to present to our voting members,” chairman Rob Kennedy said in a statement.
“Once that presentation has been made and discussions held we will consider our next steps.”
Jones’ future is expected to be at the centre of Thursday night’s extraordinary general meeting, which was originally called to consider dissolving the board and electing a new one.
Whether those motions will still be voted on is unclear.
Outside court, Jones called on Kennedy and director Carmel McGregor to explain to their electors what was in the KPMG report and why they have been fighting to keep it quiet.
“There’ll be a lot of questions that’ll be asked about their involvement over the last seven years and hopefully this is the first step in the process of clearing up what’s been a really unsavoury period for the Brumbies,” he said.
“I certainly want all the information to come out because I feel absolutely, 1000 per cent confident that once all that information (is out) there will be a big “ah ha” moment from a lot of people about what’s transpired in this whole process.”
Jones insists he has always acted properly and professionally, despite underlying tension at the club and “ugly” tactics from some.
He hopes to stay on as CEO long-term, having moved his family to Canberra on that basis.
“Right through this I’ve had the complete support of all the employees and players and we’re trying to focus on the job of running a rugby club,” he said.
“The speculation has no doubt been a bit harrowing and a massive distraction.
“It’s not over, there’s still a long way to go, but today is the first step.”