THE Sports Minister and PNGNRL Bid board chairman Philemon Embel yesterday called on the media, in particular The National newspaper, to assure the Government and the people of Papua New Guinea as well as the Bid’s corporate partners that it has no agenda to derail its ultimate goal of securing a franchise licence.
This came after Monday’s backpage headline which read, “No chance for 2013.
A disappointed Embel refuted the headline saying it was not consistent with the point of the story itself.
In a statement released during an urgent press conference involving both major dailies, Embel stated his displeasure and concern at the possible damage the continuous negative publicity could do to the Government-backed project.
“I am extremely disappointed that this newspaper has been running stories which are likely to create public doubt in the Bid, and even scare off corporate support,” he said.
Embel said the email he received from National Rugby League (NRL) chief executive officer David Gallop in January this year had advised him that the competition had no immediate plans to expand until 2013 when the television broadcasting rights would be negotiated.
“During that time (2013) when TV rights are being negotiated by the NRL and the carrier which is Channel Nine, we will then have a chance. That’s the point.
“We (PNG) will have a chance to be considered, but only in 2013, and after the TV rights negotiations are complete,” Embel stressed.
“This is the window of opportunity that the Bid is working towards.
“My objective and determination is to develop and sustain PNG rugby league to a level which the NRL can be confident of in our ability and capacity to sustain a franchise which I am sure we can do.” Embel went on to explain that the ‘sustainability’ of the sport meant lifting standards and the quality of players, facilities and the effectiveness of game officials through junior development programmes, technical official accreditation and significant corporate and Government support. He also emphasised that strong governance was key to the whole process.
“The approach we are taking is a holistic one where we are aiming to develop all areas of the sport from juniors to facilities to technical backup and we will make every endeavour within our power to accomplish that.
“This (PNGNRL bid) is for the people, it belongs to them and we do not need individuals or others trying to spoil the good work that has already been done.”