NRL Chief Executive Dave Smith will quit his post on 30 November, following a media conference today in which ARLC Chairman John Grant revealed the news alongside Smith, who was first appointed almost three years ago.
Smith suggested that it was the ideal time for the NRL to plan for the next phase of its future.
“Rugby League is a fantastic game with wonderful people involved at every level and it has been a privilege to lead the game,” Smith said.
“Together with the ARLC, the 16 NRL Clubs and the State Leagues we have made significant progress in modernising Rugby League and, having assessed our progress and year-end position, it is clear we now have the foundations in place for long term success.
“We have secured the biggest free to air broadcast deal in our history, $1.6 billion for investment in Rugby League stadiums and a financial platform that includes a sustainability fund of $50m and a surplus of $100m that is progressively being invested back into the game, and a 48% increase in non-broadcast revenue.
“We are consistently enjoying record breaking Origin and Finals Series and we have grown significantly with more than 300,000 fans converted into club members; new pathways for elite, recreational and female players; the biggest digital profile and reach of any sport in Australia; and we’ve introduced some new products such as the Auckland Nines and World Cup Challenge.
“Importantly we’ve also set new, higher standards when it comes to our brand, reputation and integrity which will solidify our growth. The game is now safer, more in line with community expectations and just as exciting for fans,” he said.
“I’ve been a change agent for most of my career and the time has come for me to hand over to a new leader to consolidate these gains and I finish with pride in the game’s achievements.
‘’I’d like to thank John Grant and the Commissioners for their first class leadership and ongoing support, as well as the support I’ve received from the NRL Clubs and State Leagues.
“And I want to thank, in particular, all the NRL staff who work so hard to make this game so successful.”
In acknowledging Smith’s contribution, Grant said the progress the game has made in three years has been very significant and they are tracking strongly against almost all the targets in the game’s strategic plan.
“Dave has been a wonderful leader and change agent for our game,” Grant said.
“We all understood that it would take between three to five years to effect meaningful change and to build the platforms from which the game could continue to grow and succeed.
“We are now financially strong, organisationally sound and have strengthened the game’s connection to the fans.
‘’On behalf of the whole Rugby League community I want to thank Dave for his tenacity, hard work and the momentum he has started to help our game become the most entertaining, engaging and respected sport.”
The ARLC has appointed Signium International to facilitate the recruitment process for a new Chief Executive.
That search will include both internal and external candidates.
While that process is underway Grant will take on executive responsibilities and senior management will share some additional duties and report directly to him.
Grant said the immediate priorities going forward would include advancing the broadcast rights negotiations, a new funding model for clubs, and working with Governments in NSW and Queensland to deliver the stadia projects that are currently in the pipeline.
He said that in this next phase, the attention would more purposefully put the game and grass roots Rugby League at the centre of the NRL’s planning and investment.
“The business is in good shape for the incoming CEO and it’s a very exciting time for all of us as part of Rugby League …we are ready to move into the next phase,” added Grant.