“Obviously it was disappointing that some inappropriate images were provided,” he said. “We’ve reviewed the process and put in place additional measures to ensure only legitimate images are included.”
Images that have been retouched or photoshopped or deemed inappropriate will be rejected and refunded.
“The interest in this innovation has been phenomenal,” he said. “We have fans right across the country who have sent in photos in their team colours wanting to be part of the action, groups of friends and whole families who want to be part of it.”
It seems the initiative may be used longer then ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys would like, with NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro shutting down plans for crowds to be back in stadiums by July 1.
On Tuesday, Barilaro, who has been an ally for the game in recent months, said the date was too soon and V’landys would need to convince the government and health officials otherwise.
“We are not ready to make that decision,” he said. “We’ve had no formal proposition by the NRL on how they would manage crowds.”
In recent weeks, V’landys said his team was urgently preparing a proposal to take to the state government, which is set to involve infra-red cameras and temperature checks of fans before and during games.
Spectators will also be required to download the government’s COVIDSafe app in order to attend.
Barilaro said V’landys would need to come to the government with a strong pitch, similar to Perisher, Thredbo and Charlotte’s Pass, which put forward their plans for the ski season to return with capped numbers.
“We are open to any industry wanting to bring packages to us,” he said. “So let’s look at what Mr V’landys wants to put forward on behalf of the NRL.”
The NRL resumed its season on May 28 and was Australia’s first football code to do so.
Last week, Premier Gladys Berejiklian shut down the notion of crowds returning to stadiums from July 1.
“We are not in that space yet,” Berejiklian said. “That’s up to organisations to consider their options, but certainly we are not in the space yet. We are working our way through the list and that’s not on the list as yet.”
V’landys is also aiming for sponsors and corporate partners to return to venues ahead of July 1, a move condemned by Australian Medical Association boss Dr Tony Bartone.
“Put bluntly, this absurd and dangerous idea belongs in the sin bin,” Dr Bartone said. “The NRL should be satisfied that it has its competition back in action, but it is unfair and unwise to put the health of the game’s fans at risk.”
V’landys, though, was optimistic last week.
“Even though the Premier said all that, we are much less risk being an open-air venue than the venues being allowed to operate in the near future,” he said in regards to pubs and clubs being allowed 50 people from June 1.
Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.