Johns' manager hits out at Gallop - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Johns' manager hits out at Gallop

By Steve Jancetic 12/05/2009 08:08:56 PM Comments (0)

Disgraced rugby league personality Matthew Johns will remain a part of Melbourne's coaching staff despite claims from NRL boss David Gallop that there was a "massive question mark" over his future involvement in the game.

Johns was on Monday night named and shamed in a report on the ABC's Four Corners program which detailed a group sex encounter with a teenage woman in Christchurch in 2002 - during Johns' time as a player at Cronulla.

The former Test star currently serves as a part-time assistant coach with the Storm on top of his bulging list of media activities, the most notable of which is his role with the Nine Network as both a commentator and as a host on the The Footy Show.

The Storm on Tuesday stood by Johns while his manager John Fordham hit out at Gallop for questioning his client's future.

"I don't deal with David Gallop in relation to Matthew Johns' contractual arrangements at Channel 9," Fordham said.

"David Gallop has no direct involvement in any way, shape or form with Matthew Johns' arrangements with Channel 9 or indeed with any other entity.

"I am therefore deeply surprised that he would want to involve himself in an employment issue in which he has no involvement."

When contacted by AAP, representatives of The Nine Network declined to comment on Johns' future.

In assessing Johns' ongoing role with Channel Nine, Gallop said:

"I'm aware that he will be talking to his employer in the next short period."

"I cannot say any more than he has a massive question mark over his position in rugby league."

Storm chief executive Brian Waldron said the club had not changed its stance on Johns following the airing of Monday night's program titled 'Code of Silence'.

"Matthew will continue his involvement with the Storm," Waldron said.

"Matthew's a part-time skills coach. This is an issue for Matthew to deal with which he is and all parties involved externally from any dealings with the club."

Fordham refused to comment on whether any of Johns' other employers had contacted him since the incident first came to light last week.

"As a matter of policy, we don't discuss the business relationships our clients have with other parties," Fordham said.

Johns and his family fled for the relative sanctuary of a holiday resort on the north-west coast of Western Australia on the weekend.

Asked how Johns was coping with the fallout, Fordham said:

"Matthew and his family are understandably distressed."

Johns admitted his role in the Christchurch incident during a segment on The Footy Show last Thursday.

Fordham claimed Johns apologised privately to the woman involved but said there would not be a public apology.

The woman involved in the incident said she contemplated suicide as a result of the group sex encounter, which involved up to six Sharks players and officials.

Another six were in the room watching.

So traumatised was the woman she claimed she wanted those involved in the incident dead.

Gallop apologised unreservedly on behalf of the game and said group sex, regardless of consent, should be considered off limits to NRL players.

"It is degrading, appalling ... we need to educate our players that that is wrong," Gallop said.

Meanwhile Gallop said he will contact sponsors of the NRL to reaffirm the code's commitment to cleaning up the sport.

Gallop said a major sponsor had expressed concerns about poor player behaviour after the start of the season was littered with misdemeanours.

The NRL has since taken a harsher stance on player behaviour resulting in the handing out of suspensions.

Gallop said he hopes no sponsors walk away from the game following the recent allegations.

"I certainly hope not, but I've got no doubt that they will be sitting back and watching the reaction," said Gallop.

"They want to see that we are taking these matters seriously, and I can, with confidence, say we are treating them very seriously and we have treated them very seriously in the past.

"We certainly need to speak to our sponsors.

"Our clubs and our players are acutely aware that this kind of issue damages those commercial relationships.

"Our sponsors, I think, accept that from time to time we will have to deal with off field behaviour, but they want to see that dealt with appropriately and certainly part of the reason that the sort of programs that I have talked about are in place are to give our sponsors some confidence that we are not turning a blind eye to these issues."

The NRL has a commitment from Telstra as the competition's major sponsor until the end of 2012.

The NRL has re-signed five sponsors over the past 12 months and is currently in negotiations with several prospective sponsors.

Gallop said he couldn't put a financial value on how damaging the scandals are to the code.

"It is too difficult to measure, but I have got no doubt it does do us damage, not only with our big commercial partners but also with ordinary Australians who love rugby league," he said.

"It damages the game, at the top level, in the key commercial relationships that we have, but just as importantly it damages the reputation of the game with mums and dads and kids who love following rugby league."

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