'I'll do everything': Peter V'landys' desperate bid to fix Ch9 mess

Peter V'landys has vowed to try and mend the NRL's relationship with Channel Nine. Pic: Getty

The NRL and its longest-running broadcast partner Channel Nine have a lot of relationship mending to do after a momentous day for rugby league.

The ARL Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys says he is determined to do whatever it takes to repair what can only be described as a frictious partnership with the free-to-air TV giant.

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On Thursday, Channel Nine unloaded on the NRL after it emerged that rugby league bosses had rubber-stamped a May 28 date for the resumption of the competition - shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among other things, Channel Nine claimed it had not been consulted in discussions about the restart of the competition.

The broadcaster also accused the NRL of squandering millions of dollars over the years due to gross “mismanagement”.

The NRL went on to announce a May 28 resumption of its competition, however failed to explain how the structure of the season would look like.

Initially, a 15-round regular season, ten less than originally scheduled prior to the coronavirus-enforced shutdown, was being considered.

Part of Nine's anger around that proposal is that it would break the terms of the agreement it has with the NRL - based on a 25-round competition with finals and an October grand final.

Hours after Nine's criticism, however, it emerged the league is looking at completing all 25 rounds, which would result in a November grand final.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that V’landys will have discussions with Nine Entertainment CEO Hugh Marks in an attempt to patch things up between the NRL and Channel Nine.

“If Hugh walks away unhappy and I walk away unhappy that means we’ve done a good deal,” V’landys told the Herald.

“We value Channel Nine and Hugh Marks as our broadcast partner and I’ll do everything in my power to keep our broadcast partner happy.”

The ARLC chairman accepted the broadcaster's criticism about the game's finances and said he regretted how recent events have unfolded.

"If there's been miscommunication and Channel Nine feel they haven't been part of the process, absolutely (I apologise)," V'landys told The Nine Network.

"There's no doubt that the cost structure that's in place for the game at the moment is unsustainable, so that (criticism) is accurate."

A November finish for the NRL would mean a clash with the men's T20 World Cup, whose broadcast rights are also owned by the Nine Network.

Up to four cricket matches would coincide with possible NRL finals fixtures.

Nine slams NRL in fiery spray

In an explosive statement released on Thursday morning, Nine accused the NRL of financial mismanagement and claimed they had broken their broadcast deal.

"At Nine we had hoped to work with the NRL on a solution to the issues facing rugby league in 2020, brought on so starkly by COVID-19," the statement read.

"But this health crisis in our community has highlighted the mismanagement of the code over many years."

The NRL is in the third of a five-year broadcast deal, most of which is with Nine and Fox Sports, worth a reported $1.8 billion.

The deal with pay television broadcaster Fox Sports is believed to be worth $1 billion, while free-to-air broadcaster, Nine, is worth an estimated $625 million.

However just last week, Nine announced it would save $130 million if the remainder of the NRL season was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Free-to-air networks are also believed to be suffering from a 20 per cent reduction in advertising revenue during the pandemic.

Nine's attack comes after weeks of speculation surrounding the future of current NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg.

Greenberg is currently in the final year of his contract.

"Nine has invested hundreds of millions in this game over decades and we now find they have profoundly wasted those funds with very little to fall back on to support the clubs, the players and supporters," the statement continued.

"In the past the NRL have had problems and we've bailed them out many times, including a $50m loan to support clubs when the last contract was signed.

"It would now appear that much of that has been squandered by a bloated head office completely ignoring the needs of the clubs, players and supporters.

"We now find ourselves with a contract that is unfulfilled by the code. We hoped we could talk through a long-term plan."

with AAP