Once again, Piers Akerman has written a story about a News Ltd investment without once mentioning that his employer has a deep involvement in the issue. He joined other News Ltd hacks, led by Sports scribbler Phil Rothfield, in pushing a News Ltd line, and then being disingenuous about it. Rothfield tried to tell his readers on Wednesday that Nws Ltd knew nothing of his yarn that John Howard had been approached to chair an independent commission to oversee Rugby League. The unwritten subtext was ‘once News Ltd departs the scene’.

Now Piers Akerman has weighed in with some uninformed comments of his own.

“Gold Coast Titans boss Michael Searle, who reportedly sounded out Howard about his possible involvement, should row back a few lengths and ensure that all else is in place and tightly locked in. Then, once certain vital elements are nailed down, it might be time to permit speculation about possible chairmen. As my friend Phil Rothfield noted in his commentary in The Daily Telegraph yesterday, an independent commission is the way forward for the game but the NRL has problems almost impossible to resolve under the current structure.

“Rothfield also mentioned “junket-loving dinosaurs”, which besides being an arresting visual image also happens to be the tragic truth. Too many of those in senior positions in the current structure are more enamoured of the free tickets, trips and other perks of the job than about the great game they are meant to be serving.”

So is Piers saying that the News Ltd folk involved with the NRL are “more enamoured of the free tickets, trips and other perks of the job than about the great game they are meant to be serving”? Surely not.  Or is he only talking about those folk from the Australian Rugby League?

If you want to understand this story and fill in the gaps that Messrs Rothfield and Akerman have lefty unexplained (because they involve commercial interests of News Ltd at Foxtel, Premier Media Group and the Melbourne Storm), read this good story by Roy Masters. Masters is a former Rugby league coach at Wests and St George and remains the best writer on the code. He also understands the real story here, which is News Ltd’s attempts to sort out its continuing conflict of interest, without damaging its investments in Foxtel and Premier Media Group (which owns Fox Sports).

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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