NRL teams could be stripped of competition points and club officials deregistered if they are caught doing business with a deregistered player manager, under a raft of proposals the ARLC will consider to clean up the player agent industry.
The NRL and Rugby League Players Association is reviewing the Agent Accreditation Scheme amid concerns about the quality of the service provided by some agents.
In what is shaping as the biggest overhaul in the industry’s history, the recommendations poised to go before the Commission include:
- Instant deregistration for club officials who engage with banned agents, which could also result in clubs being fined and being docked competition points;
- Managers to be allowed to guide the careers of both players and coaches, despite initial concerns about conflicts of interest;
- The age of players allowed to engage an agent to rise from 15 to 17;
- Reducing the number of player agents by increasing the accreditation fee by up to $10,000;
- Making it easier for established players to leave their managers if they are dissatisfied with the service they provide.
The player managers are attempting to drive many of the reforms themselves after a series of meetings, the latest of which took place with the NRL over a teleconference last week.
One of their biggest concerns was that banned agents are still operating in the shadows, making a mockery of a scheme that currently lists more than 100 accredited agents.
The managers want the bans to be strictly policed so that those who follow the rules aren’t disadvantaged. That could result in club officials being banned if they are caught calling, meeting or emailing a banned “six-and-a-half-percenter” as part of recommendations that will go before the ARLC in coming weeks.
Currently, players only have a short window to switch agencies if their manager loses their accreditation. In the future, it will be easier to switch firms should they desire to do so.
The governing body is also poised to back down after flagging an intention to ban agents from representing coaches and players. There was a concern about conflicts of interest, which could result in managers pushing their players towards clubs where their coach is in charge. However, any change could result in coaches being pushed towards banned, unqualified or unaccredited agents for representation.
As it stands, players are expected to commit to their agents for two years, with a three-month notice period if they want to change agencies. That is likely to still be the case for players entering into their first management agreement, but could be relaxed further in the future if an experienced player doesn’t feel they are being properly serviced.
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