Gavin Badger’s family have revealed how the veteran NRL referee has been forced out of the game on the eve of the finals.
Badger’s daughter Shante took to social media on Wednesday night with an emotional message of support.
'UNACCEPTABLE': Uproar over $2 million NRL farce
“This isn’t how we thought it would end. It’s not how you deserve for it to end. You deserve better,” Shante wrote.
“End of an era. For most of my life I’ve watched my Dad out on the field refereeing NRL, on Saturday I will watch him out there for the last time ever.
“To say I am sad is an understatement. So proud of what you’ve achieved Dad and I’ll keep being proud of everything you will achieve after footy. We love you.
“FYI it was not his choice to end his refereeing career.”
Badger’s wife and fellow referee Kasey Badger added: “There goes my hero.”
NRL reporter ‘The Mole’ also took to Twitter to lift the lid on Badger’s axing, claiming he was “shafted because he wasn’t ‘one of the boys’.”
Badger will officiate his final game on Saturday when he works as a touch judge for the Bulldogs’ clash with Penrith.
He has refereed 354 NRL games, but hasn’t been given the main gig since the league reverted to a one-referee system at the the restart of the 2020 season.
Shante claims Badger was told “he’s not in the top eight” referees in the league, saying “retiring means he has chosen to leave, so in saying that he is not retiring”.
It appears that Gavin Badger may have been forced to retire because of politics.— Andrew Ferguson (@AndrewRLP) September 23, 2020
If true, it is ridiculous, absurd and disgraceful.
Hope you are okay @Thebadge72
I liked your style as a ref. I hope you aren't lost to the game, you'd make a great refs coach/mentor.
I’d love for the Badge to come out and tell us the reason why he wasn’t a head the last few years. It would give a good insight into how the joint is run in there— Luke Phillips (@diamondphillipz) September 23, 2020
NRL forced to cut jobs in $50 million move
Earlier this week the NRL said it will cut 25 per cent of staff but vowed further cuts to expenditure won't come from referees as the governing body looks to save $50 million.
Chief executive Andrew Abdo announced the business restructure in a teleconference to staff, who will meet with their direct managers this week to learn of their future.
It’s understood several staff were told on Monday they are no longer required.
Adbo said the organisation would lose “some very good people during this process” as they count the cost of COVID-19.
“Talented people with a genuine love and passion for our game who have all contributed in some way,” he said.
“This is a painful but necessary process to ensure we survive.
“I have genuine empathy for all employees affected and we will listen to their feedback.”
The cuts will mean around 100 staff will lose their jobs, but it won’t account for the $50 million the NRL needs to save.
A reduction in expenditure, including reducing consultant work and general spend with budget cuts, will also ease the load.
It marks a massive scale down for the organisation that was on the brink of a catastrophic collapse when the competition shut down in March.
Already the NRL has made savings through the return of one on-field referee, scrapping the previous two-man system.
Smaller savings have been made recently through changes to the bunker system which has seen review officials cut from two to one.
But that’s where the cuts to officials will end, according to head of football Graham Annesely.
“Match officials are under a separate arrangement, we need them to control games... there will be no impact on our officiating department,” he said on Monday.
“We're not the only business going through this ... many closing their doors never to reopen and other major sports in this country have been through a similar process.
“It's a difficult day in the industry but a difficult year for everyone in the world.”
The restructure comes after the executive team was whittled from 11 to eight.