‘Bully’ Broncos run into major hurdle in CEO search
The Broncos' search for a new CEO has been thrown into disarray with NRL rivals Melbourne threatening legal action over Brisbane's pursuit of Storm chief executive Dave Donaghy.
News Corp can reveal Brisbane's board meeting on Monday night failed to rubberstamp Paul White's successor due to an employment clause in Donaghy's Storm contract that precludes him formally negotiating with the Broncos.
The Broncos had jettisoned 160 applicants to establish a shortlist of five and it is understood former sports journalist Donaghy is one of two preferred candidates ahead of Ben Ikin and former Reds boss Richard Barker.
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But under a non-compete clause in Donaghy's contract, the Storm CEO is unable to hold formal talks with any prospective employer until January 31, throwing a spanner in the works for the Broncos.
The 37-year-old did not formally apply for the Broncos job, with Brisbane powerbrokers having made overtures to Donaghy for preliminary discussions.
Storm chairman Matt Tripp ramped up his attack on the Broncos, saying the club would enforce Donaghy's contract and would consider suing Brisbane if they forged ahead with plans to poach the Melbourne boss.
"This is not the way I run a business," Tripp said.
"We will be enforcing our contract with Dave and if the Broncos are up for a legal stoush, then tell them to get ready - I'm all for it.
"I'm not going to sit back and allow the Broncos, who think they are the 500-pound gorilla in every room they walk into, to try and bully the Melbourne Storm by cherrypicking our chief executive.
"Dave can't speak to them (the Broncos) until January 31, that's why contracts are there and we will protect our 'IP' (Intellectual Property) fiercely from the Broncos.
"When you try and impersonate someone ... impersonators are generally frauds, they are impostors and they get found out.
"Some of our shareholders are worked up over this."
The Broncos have two options. They can choose to put their search for a new chief executive on the backburner and wait until February 1, when they would be able to freely begin negotiations with Donaghy.
That appears an unlikely scenario given Brisbane's need to get the front-office in order as a matter of urgency given their nightmare campaign this season.
The other option is for Brisbane to abandon their pursuit of Donaghy and turn their attention to other short-listed contenders such as Ikin, the former Broncos premiership playmaker who has carved out an excellent media career.
Tripp says he can understand if the Gladstone-born Donaghy craves a return to Queensland, but believes he has unfinished business at the Storm.
"I will work with Dave and his family to overcome the desire to head back to Queensland too quickly," he said.
"He has done so much hard work at the Storm and he is about to go to the next level in terms of what we can with the revenue we have generated.
"To my mind, Dave will take us through the next exciting phase of our football club.
"That hasn't changed off the back of the Broncos making a play for him.
"The Broncos board should be strung up for saying Melbourne are doing it right in these areas, let's just go after their people.
"They have such a big rugby league area to pick from ... to mess up the virtual monopoly they have (in Queensland) is embarrassing."
Originally published as 'Bully' Broncos run into major hurdle in CEO search