Victorian paranoia gives Peter V’landys and rugby league chance to make up for lost time

His position would be CEO of Racing Queensland. V’landys would install one of his former colleagues at the AJC as a Racing NSW stooge and become executive chair of the ARLC.

NSW and Queensland Racing would then ring fence Victoria, forcing through the key changes V’landys seeks to the nation’s calendar of races, such as the Melbourne Cup.

Greenberg ridiculed the rumour, probably because he doesn’t like horse racing and would probably never work with V’landys again.

V’landys labelled it as “total fiction.”

He added: “It’s amazing what they can come up with. I do like annoying the Victorians. They are so easy to get.”

Well, keep going.

Rugby league lags AFL because it fought an expensive, internecine Super League war and was then forced to play catch up as an independent commission looked inward, spending record TV deals on clubs, players, referees and pathways, while extinguishing spot fires in what has always been an incendiary game.

During this period, governments both federal and state, Labor and Coalition, poured billions of dollars into AFL stadiums and programs of the politically correct kind.

Ahead of last year’s federal election, the then Labor shadow minister and devoted South Sydney fan Anthony Albanese pledged $20m to AFL team Hawthorn to build a new $100m centre.

Labor lost the election and COVID-19 suspended the project, so we don’t know if the funds would have been directed to worthy causes, such as “gender equal facilities” and rooms for “not-for-profit organisations, such as headspace and Deadly Choices”, or used as facilities for footballers.

Sure, under former ARLC chair John Grant the NSW Coalition Government pledged $2 billion to build three new rectangular stadiums but Moore Park remains a hole in the ground and Homebush is a case of “we’ll believe it when we see it.”

Peter V’landys could set his sights higher.Credit:Tim Bauer

It’s not as if AFL isn’t vulnerable. Fourteen of its 18 clubs require significant financial assistance survive the pandemic, loans funded from a $600m line of credit which could become a noose around the code’s neck.

Past monies raised by the AFL from government grants, together with the superior revenue raising of their clubs – compared to their NRL equivalents – have allowed it to convert rugby league territory into Aussie Rules heartland.

As former Canberra Raiders chair John McIntyre says: “The AFL has more development officers in the Riverina than the NRL has in all of NSW.”

Former Bulldogs star Greg Brentnall, now living in Wagga Wagga – a city which once produced an assembly line of champions – points out that former NSW Origin five eighth Jamie Soward, now 35, is the last big-name NRL player his home town produced.

Brentnall says: “AFL academies, primarily based in Wagga, have produced half a dozen players, including Harry Himmelberg (GWS) and Matt Kennedy (GWS and Carlton). We are punching above our weight and need more people and resources on the ground to keep in the fight.”

The Riverina town of Temora has produced two AFL champions (Hawthorn’s Luke Breust and Isaac Smith) who grew up playing league.

The codes can co-exist, as the Storm found following a successful camp in Albury.

When the Albury council voted against the Storm using the council-owned ground, home of the Albury Thunder, the local Aussie Rules club, the Tigers, volunteered their own oval and clubhouse.

Last year, when South Sydney played a trial game against a Riverina team in Albury, the Tigers and Thunder went 50:50 hosting it.

It’s at the top where the cold war between the codes is fought.

If V’landys is to counter Victorian paranoia, he could view AFL the way former US President, Richard Nixon, perceived communism.

“It isn’t sleeping,” Nixon said. “It is, as always, plotting, scheming, working, fighting.”

Nothing paranoid about that.

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