Open letter to Members and fans

Dear valued members,

On behalf of the Board, management, coaching and playing staff and everyone at the Club I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all our 10,713 members to date in season 2014.

In the challenging times that the Club finds itself in, this figure is an amazing proclamation of the passion, commitment and loyalty towards the Sharks.

You may be aware that earlier this year the NRL announced two races to assist Clubs increase all-important membership numbers. One race centred on total memberships from February and the other on percentage increases over the same period. As a result of your fantastic support and some hard work by our staff, I am very pleased to announce that we took out 3Rd place in the percentage race. Excitingly, one of the prizes is $10,000 cash for members, with the members to decide how to spend it. Our membership team will soon seek your input regarding this matter.

In dealing with some of the day to day issues, I have not provided the level of communication that I would normally have and moving forward I commit to at least a monthly up-date.

I will take this opportunity to provide information on a number of issues that I am sure are important to you and the Club.

ASADA

Disappointingly, on the morning of the recent Parramatta game sensational, unsubstantiated headlines appeared on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald. Interestingly, no other media outlet ran the story and by Wednesday the whole thing had again disappeared.

At this stage, ASADA have issued a statement confirming that the Hon. Garry Downes (appointed by the Federal Government) has completed his report and handed it to ASADA. Additionally, the previous CEO of ASADA has retired and a new CEO was only recently appointed. Whilst I understand he has been requested to quickly resolve this long running matter, naturally he will require some time to ensure he is up to speed with all the relevant information so as to arrive at the correct decision. We are all very well aware that the time period since the initial press conference is totally unacceptable, and there is no doubt the whole matter has had a detrimental effect on all the individuals and their families, as well as on our great Club. The NRL has promised to continue to put pressure on ASADA to seek the quickest possible finalisation.

Growing Revenue

Like any business, it is essential that we grow revenue and then spend monies wisely and in line with our agreed plans.

I accept that our decision to increase membership prices this year was not well received by everyone, however again in the current financial circumstances hard decisions needed to be made in the best interests of the Club. I am pleased to report that in addition to the membership numbers being up on last year, our revenue is also $200,000 up on 2013, but still short of our 2014 budget figure.

Undoubtedly, sponsorship plays a vital role for any professional sporting organisation and whilst I accept that from a perception point of view it would be better to have our playing strip fully sponsored, it is more important to get the correct commercial value. We continue to work hard in this space and I remain confident new partners will come on board.

As you would be aware, in 2013 we achieved a record sponsorship figure of $4.7m and I am pleased to advise that the 2014 sponsorship figure is currently over $5.1m, but also short of our 2014 budget figure. If you are aware of any business looking to partner the Sharks, please do not hesitate to let us know.

It is appropriate that I acknowledge the support of long term and loyal sponsors Blades & CUB who have up-graded and extended their partnerships. Last year One Solutions and Reozone joined the Sharks sponsor family and this year they have increased their investment. We were also joined this season by a new major corporate partner MOITS who are a welcome addition to our team.

The continued support of all our sponsors is extremely valued and I extend my sincere thanks to all these people for their wonderful support.

On Field

Clearly, our on-field results at NRL & Holden Cup level are not what we expected and whilst injuries have clearly been a contributing factor, the bottom line in professional sport is winning. Please be assured that everyone at the Club is committed to turning these results around in the remaining rounds.

Naturally, in a passionate business like Rugby League, everyone have opinions on selections, retention and recruitment. I believe this is healthy, as long as people remain constructive and respectful. In all the years I have had the privilege of working in Rugby League I have never worked with a coach who did not genuinely believe he picked the best available team to achieve a winning result for that game.

Recruitment/retention decisions are made consistent with our plans and again taking into account what we believe are in the best long term interests of the Club. Whilst there were times last year with staff not in place and major day to day challenges to deal with that we may not have addressed all these issues, I am very confident that this has been addressed for 2014 and beyond.

Community

We are extremely lucky and fortunate to represent a wonderful local community and we take our obligations in this regard extremely seriously.

As at the end of April, our players had undertaken 1,104 community appearance hours (this time last year 972 hours) across 214 community appearances. Leading the “premiership” for most community appearances are Todd Carney, Paul Gallen, Nathan Gardner, Wade Graham & Ricky Leutele.

This is your Club, this is our Club and it is a great Club. Your support is valued and greatly appreciated and I would ask that you stay loyal, stick together and be excited about our wonderful future.

UP UP CRONULLA AND 10,713 MEMBERS!!!

Steve Noyce
Cronulla Sharks Football Club CEO