THREE founding directors of the PNGNRL Bid team opted to end their association with the PNGNRL Bid last month casting doubt on the credibility of the bid to get into the NRL by 2013.
Australian rugby league legend Mal Meninga, former Defence minister Benias Sabumei and influential civil engineer Frank Krammer have all stepped down from their roles on the board.
However, Minister for Sports and chairman of PNGNRL Bid, Philemon Embel, insisted that Meninga, had been appointed the PNGNRL bid’s ambassador.
But this is a change which some close to the team said was an actual demotion and should be seen as step backward for the Government-supported project.
In an interview with the National, Embel yesterday said Meninga had been moved to be better utilised as the official PNGNRL Bid ambassador.
Sources close to the PNGNRL Bid refuted the minister’s assertions saying instead that the manner in which the PNGNRL Bid management had treated Meninga was an embarrassment to the country and had actually contributed in Meninga all but withdrawing from the bid process.
However, it has been reported in Australia that Meninga was upset over media reports that he was axed from PNGNRL Bid director’s position. The reports have revealed that Meninga actually resigned from the bid team because of the way the biding team was going on to secure a licence.
According to reports Meninga claims that he did not like the way how a lot of money has been spend on paying some consultants driving the PNGNRL Bid.
Meninga, Sabumei and Krammer were directors of the PNGNRL Bid team, but while the Queensland State of Origin coach had purportedly been moved from that position as part of the bid team’s ‘restructuring’ process, both Krammer and Sabumei had chosen to withdraw.
Sabumei, when contacted yesterday, said little had been accomplished that he was aware of because the bid team had effectively ‘isolated’ him.
“We’ve (board of directors) only had one meeting since last August and you can’t run any business transparently and properly without the input from all stakeholders and that has not happened,” a disappointed Sabumei said.
“It was basically a project run by one side with decisions being made by this group without the directors’ knowledge or endorsement.
“I resigned as a director because I, and my fellow directors, felt the management team was not running the affairs in a way that it should have been.”
When asked about the bid’s chances of entering a team in the NRL by 2013, he said it was unlikely.
“There will be no expansion in 2013 for the NRL, that has been made abundantly clear, but PNG still won’t be ready in 2018, we’re better off putting money into developing our juniors and strengthening the local leagues,” Sabumei said.
In related news, Mr Embel said the changes were made to allow the restructure to meet its objectives.
A representative (named) from the PNG Sports Foundation has reportedly been appointed to the PNGNRL Bid board together with a representive from the sponsors.