As pledged in my initial communication, transparency and accountability to our members and stakeholders is equally important from a Board level, therefore I am pleased to provide this update and to inform that we have designed a 360-degree feedback program to capture this important initiative.
As part of the plan YOUR Board will now receive performance commentary from the following stakeholders; Members, Executive, Major corporate partners and the NRL.
This will take place annually and in line with our financial year calendar. Initially this information will be used to create a baseline to track Board improvement, both in the short term and long into the future. Further details on this exciting program and how to participate will be communicated and will follow in due course.
I am also very pleased to advise the Board has approved a new three-year strategic plan, led by our CEO, Executive Team and representatives from across the business.
Management did an outstanding job setting the direction and identifying key indicators, with the Board adding and owning critical investment milestones. The Management & Directors chose to implement an amendable strategic planning model which is to be reviewed and updated quarterly in line with the ever-changing environment we operate in.
COVID-19 risk management is a very serious and complex threat facing all businesses and the Directors have been working closely with specialists in this field to ensure all our personnel in and out of the NRL bubble have up to date, best advice available. This will continue to be a moving feat as we ride the wave of COVID-19.
Strategic Committees Update
Audit and Risk Committee
The business moved to an external candidate, Patrick Burke, as Chairman of the Audit and Risk committee. This decision was made to provide the Club with greater independence in what could be considered the most important role in providing governance across a growing organisation.
It is my firm view that the Board are collectively providing significant value add across the wider Sharks Group. The key to a successful Board is balance, harmony and skill set, which has been the cornerstone to the Club being able to deliver many large and small accomplishments to the business in the relatively short time we have been together.
While considering the above, it’s the Nominations Committee (NC) role to ensure continuous improvement through review, performance management and by making appropriate changes where required. One area identified by the NC is the lack of Board appointment skillset criteria. The committee is looking to explore a level of skillset requirements to qualify for Board appointment of this great Club.
The Club’s leadership is as imperative as is a Head Coach to a football team. We simply cannot have suboptimal controls around the appointment of such key roles as directorships within our business that ultimately decide the fate of the Club as a result of the decisions being made. It is anticipated a further members update, and approval request, will be sought later in the year on this matter.
Remuneration & Appointments Committee
Mr Vince Costa was recently appointed as our new Chief Financial and Commercial Officer. Vince is extremely knowledgeable in the NRL space after 16 years with the Bulldogs in a variety of positions, most notably as Financial Controller, CFO and COO. In his short time with the Sharks Vince has fit in seamlessly and is already proving to be a valuable asset to our Club. Similar to the Board 360 program, the staff will undergo performance management assessments to be overseen by the R & A committee
With the appointment of Mark Deutsch as Chairman of this committee we again have gone for best in market. Mark is a well-respected legal counsel and our board Vice Chairman. Pleasantly, the committee has not been engaged for specific adjudication in recent times, therefore the focus has been on building a penalties matrix to ensure consistency is applied to all matters arsing in any future hearings.
Sensational news with the return of games and equally exciting is fans being able to attend and watch their teams at the venues. With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, we will continue to monitor and abide by ARL Commission and government guidelines. Significant planning has taken place for 2022 recruitment, with the November 1 go-live date for player offers approaching. Whilst squad selection and football support staff will always remain the responsibility of Football Department management, the Football Committee (FC) is there to provide governance over salary cap compliance (financial & squad balance). It’s also prudent for the FC to challenge management to ensure longer-term strategic decision-making takes precedence at times, coupled with supporting our Head Coach in his final recruitment choices. After a slow start to our 2020 campaign it is great to see John Morris leading our team to a 5 from 7 winning streak, putting us in a position to challenge for the top eight during the second half of the season.
Our Building committee is doing an amazing job, applying countless hours to deliver our responsibilities under the PDA. Our key risk is building timelines which are solely at the discretion of the developer (as per terms agreed in 2011 in the development agreement). We will keep members and stakeholders updated if a 2022 opening timeframe becomes at risk.
The business has managed to secure Drew Townsend and Morry Waked as external members of the Investment Committee (IC). Both come with extensive knowledge and experience in the investment space. Fundamental to the long-term success of the Sharks Group is where and how we best deploy the capital from the property development. While pleased to report year-on-year trading losses are trending to a thing of the past, income generating assets are key to us being a powerhouse organisation off the field, in turn giving the football operations every chance to mirror those successes on the field. Our CEO is charged with identifying income generating assets for the IC to review and to make final recommendations to the Board. Settlement of Sharks at Kareela and the success it has enjoyed since opening, with record memberships numbers and vastly increased turnover, is an example of what can be achieved with the right investment decisions and strategy
Lastly, I would like to take the opportunity to thank CEO Dino Mezzatesta, our executive team, staff and all Sharks stakeholders for their professionalism, patience and understanding during these unprecedented times of COVID-19. All parties have shared in the business achieving its best possible financial outcome in such roller coaster and unprecedented times.
My fellow Directors and I would again like to take the opportunity to thank you for the opportunity to serve this great Club.
Cronulla Sharks Board of Directors