The ARL Independent Commission was set up with the goal of being able to stand above self interests and agenda’s and do what is in the best interests of the overall game.
In the past, Rugby League administrations have been political beasts. They have had to answer to clubs, who are always out to look after their own interests, or any of the various RL’s that you want to pick out of a hat.
Now, the financial dooms day that is slowly creeping up on the Gold Coast Titans will demand the ARLC show how independent it truly are. They will be forced to make some tough decisions to save Rugby League on the Gold Coast.
They may have to spend more money on the Titans than they do on other clubs. They may be forced to make decisions on player contracts. They may have to favour the Titans in some instances over other clubs in the short term.
This all has to happen.
So why do we need to save the Gold Coast Titans? Why shouldn’t we just leave them to die?
Why We Can Not Leave The Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is a growing area of Australia that is also a decent sized media market. It is an area that services not just the Gold Coast itself, but thats influence stretched into northern New South Wales and even get the attention of Brisbane as well.
Rugby League has invested millions of dollars into making sure Rugby League on the Gold Coast works. We have a brilliant, made for Rugby League stadium there that was set up with transportation links.
It is not even a question, Rugby League won’t be walking away from the Gold Coast.
What Is Likely To Happen?
In very basic terms I think what you will find is that the current Gold Coast Titans business will be allowed to die. Then, the ARL will start up a brand new business that will use the same team colours, the same team name, the same logo, but that will crucially be free of debt.
Look for the ARLC to appoint an experience Rugby League administrator to take control of the new company. They have already said they will honour all player contracts, so you can expect the Titans to look almost the same on the field as they would have otherwise.
The only way you would see team changes is if the new administrator found salary cap breaches. That would force the new administrator to release players (Although they would be paid their full contracts in this situation). You could even see some players retire on what would effectively be full pay.
Another on field change you might see is players who could get a bigger contract elsewhere deciding to leave the Gold Coast. So if a young player could get more money playing for say the Broncos, Dragons, Storm, whoever, they would leave. Keeping in mind, they were contracted to the old Gold Coast Titans company, and the death of that company is effectively the end of that contract.
The ARLC and NRL have said they will honour all contracts to players.
What Happens To The Coaching And Back Room Staff?
Not everyone will be asked to stay. In fact, a new administrator has a responsibility to not lot the club into failing contracts and to get rid of people at the club, off the field, who are not getting the job done.
You would have to question whether coach John Cartwright would have the entire length of his contract honoured, which runs out some time just before Skynet takes over! It would just be irresponsible to do so. This new business doesn’t need to start by bogging itself down with terrible contracts.
Having said that, I think it is in the best interests for the Gold Coast to keep its entire coaching staff, if only on smaller term contracts.
Will The New Club Be Any Different From The Old Club?
First of all, they won’t be saddled with the debt from the failed Center Of Excellence. That will be a huge weight off of the new club that gets formed.
There will be a new administration of the club in place, which is badly needed, and they will streamline things and cut back costs.
There will have to scramble in terms of renegotiating with sponsors, the Skilled Park venue, and other general equipment suppliers. It is going to be a rushed job but one that needs to be done right the first time.
They will look to get the club up and running, back on its feet, and then the real healing process will begin.
Getting Gold Coast Fans Back
Gold Coast fans aren’t stupid. Their club is poor on the field, a shambles off the field, they have seen many of their own residence screwed over with this financial mess, and they are staying away. They don’t need to go out of their way to make this hassle part of their lives!
The new club will need to do a lot of work mending bridges within their own community.
To their credit, a lot of people who are owed money have said their issue is not with the game, it is with the administration of the Titans. Many have said that once that administration is replaced, they will support the Titans 100%.
They are better people than I am…
There are people out there who have had their businesses ruined. That have lost millions of dollars. People who have had their lives heavily effected by this financial collapse.
The new Gold Coast Titans club needs to make amends. The ARLC and NRL can not pay everyone what they are owed, but I think Rugby League needs to do what it can to help out as many people as they can that have been effected by this.
From then on, the club needs to engage with the community again. They need to do so under the realization that they have baggage now, and that a lot of the work they will do with be with a sense of “We are sorry, please give us another chance”.
If they need any blueprint, it would be the Penrith Panthers over the last year.
The Panthers found their relationship with its supporter base completely ruined. Yet, with hard work and a real spirit of needing to make up lost ground, the Panthers have turned things around.
It is possible.
The Zombie Titans
It is really unfortunate what has happened on the Gold Coast. A combination being over ambitious, bad timing and poor management has seen the Gold Coast Titans fall into one huge financial mess.
When the old club is shut down, and the new club is starts up, it will all happen very quickly and most people won’t even notice a change at all.
It will all best a big test for the ARLC and NRL though. This will be a special project, the likes of which the game hasn’t really seen before.