A crucial time for NRL clubs. But no one was watching the clock.

Portrait of Peter V'landys, the man behind The Everest horse race held at Randwick Racecourse this weekend. 13th October 2017, Photo: Wolter Peeters, The Sydney Morning Herald.
Portrait of Peter V'landys, the man behind The Everest horse race held at Randwick Racecourse this weekend. 13th October 2017, Photo: Wolter Peeters, The Sydney Morning Herald.

A marathon phone hook up of NRL club chairmen on Wednesday afternoon, called to agree on their two nominees for a new ARLC board structure, has voted to extend the nomination process with some clubs also expressing dissatisfaction with the reform process on a new constitution.

Souths chairman Nick Pappas, in his capacity as co-ordinator of the NRL clubs' response to a new ARLC constitution, emailed all club chairs on Wednesday morning offering two nominees: Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys and Sydney solicitor Glen Selikowitz.

They had been the only two names received by what Pappas perceived to be the close of business on Friday.

A third nomination, submitted by Titans chairman Dennis Watt, was deemed by Pappas to have been received after 5pm Sydney time, although it had been sent before 5pm Queensland time, with Australian Eastern Daylight Time explaining the difference.

However, Wednesday's marathon meeting agreed to extend the nomination process, Storm chairman Bart Campbell, saying, "The meeting resolved to extend the process and there will be a vote by close of business Thursday, Sydney and Melbourne time, assuming more names are added."

Pappas' email to clubs on Wednesday did not canvass the opportunity of a third nominee, with the two choices, who had the support of mainly Sydney clubs, assumed to be a fait accompli.

This aggravated a coterie of chairs, who had nominated the third candidate, in particular Wests Tigers chair Marina Go and Warriors chair, Jim Doyle - both of whom had supported Watt's nomination in writing - as well as the Storm's Campbell.

Insofar as the cut-off time had been written as "close of business", with no specific mention of NSW or Queensland time, a Google search discovered "close of business" traditionally means 5.30pm, meaning Watt's nomination had been received within the time frame, even by Sydney clocks.

Pappas' pre-meeting email did not anticipate a vote on the two declared nominees, merely whether there was any objection to either.

Under the rules of the draft constitution, ten of the NRL's 16 clubs are required to support a club nominee to a new ARLC structure.

While it was possible this threshold would not be reached if the Titans, Wests Tigers, Warriors, Storm, Raiders, Broncos and Titans objected to the candidates, this would have become irrelevant if the coterie of angry clubs retaliated by threatening to walk away from constitutional change.

Under existing ARLC rules, it requires 15 of the 16 clubs, plus the NSWRL and QRL, to agree to constitutional change.

Not all clubs are happy with the constitutional change as drafted.

The draft constitution, prepared by Pappas with the strong support of Bulldogs chair Ray Dib and Roosters boss Nick Politis, provides for a veto over any decision making if the chairs of the NSWRL and QRL are not present at meetings.

This provision mocks the notion of "independence", the much heralded word attached to the inaugural ARLC.

Nor would it have the blessing of AOC president John Coates who was drafted in more than a year ago to prepare a new ARLC constitution, which allowed for a board with two representatives each from the states and clubs.

The draft constitution is also seen by many "out of town" clubs as Sydney-centric.

Certainly, the view that the NRL marches now to Sydney time entrenches that view.

V'landys was promoted strongly by the Sydney club bosses, while Selikowitz was a late nominee of the Bulldogs' Dib.

He was formerly a lawyer with Baker McKenzie, represented the ARL during the Super League war and worked with Pappas when NRL clubs rebelled in 2016 against the ARLC over a breach of their memorandum of understanding.

While Dib has played a major role in the draft constitution, nominating one club director and endorsing the other, as well as empowering his Bulldogs ally, NSWRL chair Dr George Peponis, at ARLC meetings, he may not survive his own club elections.

Lynne Anderson, daughter of the late Bulldogs supremo, Peter "Bullfrog" Moore, and wife of double premiership coach Chris Anderson, is expected to be the new chair at the Canterbury football club if her "Reform" ticket is successful at next month's election.

There are many conclusions that can be reached from rugby league's latest embarrassing politics, one of which is that argument over a few minutes is significant in a constitutional exercise that has been proceeding for more than a year.

Another is that the search for two NRL club representatives on the ARLC, directors who presumably can add knowledge of the code to balance the independence of the majority, has resulted in only two "official" names received.

This story A crucial time for NRL clubs. But no one was watching the clock. first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.