The loquacious CEO of the Melbourne
Storm, Brian “Wally” Waldron, must surely be the number one contender for any
nationwide award for ingratitude. In yesterday’s SMH Waldron has made the
extraordinary claim that Melbourne Storm will not be taken seriously by the
rugby league community nor embraced by its home city while it is owned by News
Limited.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
Or, in the case of the Storm, it should be the “shovel that feeds it”. Since its inception, the Storm has survived
not on public support, not on sponsors, and most certainly not on good
management, but on the extraordinary generosity of the Murdochs and News
Limited. And you can add a touch of taxpayer funded goodwill from the Kennett
and Bracks Governments.

If “Wally Waldron” knows a corporate
benefactor interested enough, or silly enough, to take News Limited out then I
am sure News Limited would have to consider any serious offer. But how ungrateful can you get? News
Limited might be criticised for Super League, but the Storm would have
collapsed, or been relocated, years ago but for News’s patience and generosity.

There is a second aspect to the Waldron
statement that confirms Ray Hadley is spot on in nicknaming him “Wally”
Waldron. The claim that the Storm won’t be taken
seriously by the rugby league community, or its home city, for as long as it is
owned by News is unadulterated codswallop.

Doesn’t he know that News Limited is a
major shareholder/majority shareholder in a number of other clubs AND owns 50% of
the National Rugby League?

Those who criticise the place of Storm in
the NRL, such as Ray Hadley and the Eels CEO, Denis Fitzgerald, do
so because they don’t believe the game has a future in Melbourne, and that
the team should be relocated to the Central Coast of NSW. And they do so
partly because Channel Nine in Melbourne, not News Limited, won’t televise any
NRL matches, let alone Storm matches, at a civilised hour.

And as for the claim that the Storm won’t
be embraced by its home city while it is owned by News Limited, the guy needs
to get real. The good people of Melbourne know
precious little about the Storm full stop, let alone who owns it!

And what’s more, most rugby league fans – and
officials – in NSW and Queensland don’t care either!

Peter Fray

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