One of the main sticking points in broadcast negotiations between Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany and Nine boss Hugh Marks, apart from discussions about an extension, is the length of the this season.
Channel Nine would prefer a shorter competition in 2020 of about 17 weeks while Fox Sports want as many games as possible and would be happy for the competition to run into November.
V’landys has tried to play the role of peacemaker but the game’s head honcho appears to be done with playing nice and has vowed not to leave his office today until a competition structure for 2020 is locked in.
“We have two different broadcasters – one has a different view to the other,” V’landys said.
“Today is D-Day for me. A decision will be made as to the length of the season between the two broadcasters.
“We will meet our contractual obligation to the broadcasters but a decision has to be made. The procrastination has been taking long enough. A decision will be made today.”
At the core of V’landys’ frustrations is a statement released by Nine on Thursday night, which is believed to have blindsided the game’s chairman.
“Although we agree constructive discussions have been held between the NRL, Nine and Foxtel, we feel it’s premature to be confirming a start date at this stage,” a Nine spokesperson said.
“There is a great will to work together to an outcome but a lot of work still to do. A deal needs to be completed and the structure of the competition locked [in], which importantly must include how it will operate within the health-and-safety standards currently affecting the community.”
V’landys strongly opposes the notion that the NRL was risking the health of the players or the community by planning to return on May 28.
“Look at the data and the facts,” he said.
“Don’t look at emotion and scaremongering and emotional rhetoric. You’ve got to look at the facts, and the facts are for the last 12 days in NSW the infection rate has been less than 1 per cent. When we suspended play on the last round the infection rate was 25.5 per cent.
“The health experts then said we could play, so what is the difference? The difference is that it is much safer now, and it’ll be safer in five weeks than it ever has been … I think people have got to stop using this alarmist language.
“We have done our negotiation with government, we are applying to governments and we will continue to do so. It’s five weeks away. In the last 14 days our infection rate has been less than one per cent.
“We are confident that it’s safe. The risk is minimal to zero. Why shouldn’t we start playing. Why are we going to rob our fans and players because of scaremongering and alarmist rhetoric?”
Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald