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Chairman's Address - April 2021

Dear Members,
Welcome to this quarterly address in covering off on what has been an eventful start to our 2021 season.

Firstly, we thank those members who attended the recent AGM, held at Sharks at Kareela, for their interest and continued support. The response to the presentation of our financials and yearly report was overwhelmingly positive and the Board is appreciative that you continue to entrust us with the job of driving this Club towards a long and successful future.

As I have said previously, we are firm in our belief that the next few years will be exciting in leveraging off the foundations we have built over the past 18 months to two years. The ensuing period will now be vital in setting the Club up for success in all areas of the business for the next decade and beyond.

As a part of this member communication, I will also address the recent departure of Head Coach John Morris and the subsequent acquisition of Craig Fitzgibbon from the 2022 season onwards.

See following reports from the various committees to have held meetings and conducted business during the past quarter.

Nominations Committee
From the Chairman, to the Board, the CEO and to the Executive Management team, the Club is in sync and has a fantastic operating rhythm which is evident in our performance over the past 24 months.

Further complimenting this team is the recent appointment of our two new Board members in Matthew McGrath and Patrick Bourke. Matthew as ATC Chairman and with a background in retail management, along with Patrick who has extensive experience in accounting, finance, marketing, and compliance, they will certainly be an asset for this Club. I believe it is a great coup to attract this level of talent to our Board Room. See link for Board of Director bio’s to read more about Matthew, Patrick and your Board of Directors - CLICK HERE

Remuneration & Appointments Committee
The committee made a major strategic decision earlier this month surrounding our Head Coach John Morris. John has done a brilliant job for this Club as a player on the field, before making a significant contribution as a coach, from his early days in elite junior Development, then as NYC Under-20’s coach, to NRL Assistant, before taking the reins in trying circumstances as Head Coach following the sudden departure of Shane Flanagan. He has always given his best for the Cronulla Club and on behalf of the Board we cannot thank him enough.

There have been plenty of tough conversations and decisions made as a result over the past couple of years, as we transformed from a Football Club, to a Football Business. Survival as an independent Club at our home base in the Sutherland Shire has depended on it.

Without a doubt amongst the toughest decisions throughout our tenure has been the recent one surrounding the Head Coach. As a Board and Executive, we stand by the decision to appoint Craig Fitzgibbon. Having our time again we may have considered doing things a little differently, but I would say it is hard juggling confidentiality, personal requests from various parties and the fact there are no secrets in rugby league. Once the final decision was formalised, I can confirm we moved as quickly as possible, while trying to protect the interests of the outgoing and incoming parties. Unfortunately, to please and satisfy all parties is a dynamic which is largely unachievable.

To all Members and fans, I can assure you we have a dedicated Board and Executive, one that only has this Club at heart. Your Board in a volunteer capacity each dedicate on average greater than 25 hours per week of their skill set and time as evidence of their commitment. Please stick strong together and please support the team that is driving the interests of this Club. We are lucky to have the luxury of such a devoted group.

 

Football
In recent days we have secured the services of multi-premiership winning centre Will Chambers for the remainder of the 2021 season. Will has arrived in excellent shape and with a great attitude to not only succeed personally in adding his class and ability to our NRL squad, but to also mentor and help develop the talented crop of youngsters we have on our roster. I look forward to seeing him on the field and in Sharks colours in the coming weeks.

The football department has also recently announced the important re-signing of Siosifa Talakai for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. A tremendous talent, Sifa was a revelation in 2020, has just returned from off-season shoulder surgery and is working his way back to full fitness. We anticipate him playing a big part in our success for the rest of this year and in the seasons to follow. 

I can also report that negotiations are on-going with Toby Rudolf, Connor Tracey and a number of our other young players.

I would also like you to please join me in wishing Josh Hannay all the best in leading this great Club as our NRL coach for the remainder of 2021. I can assure you he has the backing of the Club and am confident Josh and the players will continue the good work carried out to date by John Morris and the NRL coaching and high performance staff.

Finally on the football front, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the decision made by Chad Townsend not to take up his contract option and to accept an opportunity with the Cowboys from the start of the 2022 season. A local junior, a wonderful player for our Club since making his debut 2011 and a member of our Premiership team of 2016, Chad has always been an outstanding ambassador for the Sharks. We understand his decision has been made in what he believes to be in the best interests of his family and we certainly wish him well.

 

Building Committee
The committee continues to work on the planning and development of our new Leagues Club, with the design almost at a point where we will be able to share details with our members. As communicated previously, this will ultimately be a first-class facility. Works are still on track for a completion towards early to mid-2023.

Investment Committee
RBA cash rates are at record lows, and with the expectation for these to remain this way well into the foreseeable future.  This has seen the flow on effect with returns on cash, savings accounts, and term deposits also falling to record low levels. 

This has brought inflation risk to the forefront, as it poses a real risk of eroding wealth. The RBA targets for inflation are between 2-3%, however the outlook or forecast for 2021 has inflation at approximately 1.35%.

What this means for an investor is that if you were to hold your money in a 12-month Term Deposit paying interest of 0.35%, at the end of the 12-month period after factoring in inflation (1.35%), your money has gone backwards by -1%, or in other words you would be losing money.

See some basic examples in these graphs.

Traditionally like many Australian investors, the Club has held its working capital and investments in Term Deposits and enjoyed comfortable returns, however for us to continue to do this would mean putting the investment capital at risk.

To protect our investment capital for future years, we have been exploring alternatives to cash and term deposits.

These still represent secure and safe investments, however with a target to deliver a return over inflation, to protect and secure our investment capital for the Club now and into the future.

Some of the products which are alternatives to term deposits and cash, include fixed income investments with a focus on capital preservation and returns above inflation. These include actively managed and secured loan portfolios, made up of secured direct lending in the Australian Corporate and Private credit area. 

As these are heavily vetted and secured, there is a very low risk of capital loss, they will continue to provide us with regular monthly investment income and continue to provide the liquidity we need for our working capital.

The Sharks Investment Committee are working together with licensed financial advisors and Investment managers to source the market leading solutions and we look forward to providing more detail in the near future, however rest assured our investment capital is in safe hands, and as always with the strong view for protecting your Club’s future.

Another easy-to-follow graph is below is as example of our investment strategy as outlined above.

*Inflation based on RBA targets of 2% returns net of fees. Disclaimer and warning: Returns are estimates only – projections and modelling is based on past historical performance investments, as well as illustrating target returns. With every investment, there is no guarantee of future performance of returns, or of capital guarantee.

 

In closing
We encourage you to continue your support during the 2021 season and in closing my fellow Directors and I would again like to thank you for the opportunity to serve this great Club.