Firstly, a thank you to those who showed interest and attended the recent Members Information Night. We were able to explain and detail some of the challenges and frustrations faced relating to the construction of our Sharks Leagues Club at Woolooware.
Thanks to the 100-plus members in attendance and for those unable to be there on the night, following is a summary of what was presented. We certainly remain committed to providing a first-class Leagues Club facility for our members and their guests to enjoy.
In relation to Board matters, Director David Blackett recently tendered his resignation as a Director of the Sharks. David joined the Board back in 2019 and had been acting as the Chair of the Nominations, Remunerations & Appointment and Building Committees.
We have since filled this Board vacancy with Wayne Knight, a lifelong resident and prominent figure in the Sutherland Shire. A dedicated family man, Wayne has been unwavering in his support of the Sharks as a corporate sponsor, while he is a key player in the business world as the CEO and Founder of Daily Press and the Indy Agency.
His journey in the world of business is marked by remarkable achievements and continuous innovation. In 1999, Wayne laid the foundation for Daily Press, initially a print-focused company, which as a result of his forward-thinking approach, has allowed Daily Press to evolve into a dynamic digital communications powerhouse. Wayne’s leadership and strategic vision have not only kept these organisations at the forefront of their industry but have also propelled them to become leaders in design, digital marketing, and creative services.
In 2022, Wayne's remarkable contributions were recognised by Mumbrella, with Daily Press named the Fastest Growing Design and Digital Agency in Australia. Daily Press takes pride in specialising in the hospitality industry, serving over 400 major hotel groups, clubs, and casinos, with their team renowned as the go-to experts in this sector, offering a wide range of services from creative design and marketing to content creation, digital publications, animation, video production.
As we enter an era becoming increasingly more dependent on technology, Wayne’s introduction to the Board comes at an ideal time to assist with the new Leagues Club, enhancing Sharks at Kareela and offering guidance within the Football Department for all things creative and digital.
Together with Management, the Board continues to set a platform for the business to pursue its strategic objectives, including sound and structed governance, in building on a commitment to take the Sharks to the next level. We currently have a great operating rhythm and will now look for continued stability and consistency, and with this we are confident we will deliver on behalf of our members and stakeholders.
Following is an updated list of the Sharks Boards and Committees as of the end of November 2023.
While before introducing the reports from the various committees, on behalf of the Board of Directors we thank our committed members for their unwavering support, encourage you to continue that support into 2024 and wish everyone a safe and prosperous holiday period.
The Nominations Committee was busy during the month revisiting its pre-qualified database to review and recommend to the Board a replacement for Mr Blackett. In line with the Clubs future requirements, Mr Knight was recommended to the Board and appointed as a result.
Morry Waked joined the Committee and Steven Mace appointed as Chair of the Committee
It was wonderful to see so many members attend the information night where we were able to provide an update on the Woolooware Bay Development and progress of our Leagues Club, which we are sure you will agree has presented several challenges. A summary of the presentation is below.
Many would have also seen the ‘For Lease’ signs at our 94 Cronulla Street building, and with some impressive enquires already received we will consider our options and how to best secure and preserve our cash flow. Whilst disappointing not to place our Merchandise store at the venue, Management is working on other exciting alternatives to continue to serve our members and fans. There will be further information released as it come to hand in relation to our Sharks Store, however in the interim, the store remains in operation at Sharks at Kareela for all merchandise needs. Visit the store to purchase that Sharks Christmas gift or shop on-line at www.sharksstore.com.au.
Matt McGrath was appointed as Chair of the Building Committee joined by Steven Mace.
Much work is taking place behind the scenes in establishing a framework and set criteria for Life Membership and in relation to Sharks Immortals and a Hall of Fame.
This task is being led by Sharks Membership Manager James Peters, with the group holding meetings with long term Members and Sharks Historian Ashley Taylor to validate the Board strategy.
These three Achievement awards or categories will be structured to ensure the highest governance to ensure those individuals who reach these heights are recognised for their contribution and achievement to the Sharks club, its brand and culture.
The Board are committed to having Members vote on the Life Membership/Immortals/Hall of Fame criteria at the next AGM, with the structure and criteria transparently provided prior to the AGM to ensure all members understand the nature and detail in the proposal.
Remuneration & Appointments Committee
Management have completed a reshuffle in the business and we congratulate and welcome back Vinh Tran who has taken up the role of Head of Community. With the Sharks over a four year period dating back to 2014 in the role of Academy & Elite Pathways Manager, Vinh then moved onto work for Swimming NSW and Swimming Australia before joining the NRL in July 2022 as Recruitment Programs Manager. We are pleased to have Vinh back at the Sharks in driving such an important part of our business.
In other appointments the business has been successful in securing a highly qualified and experienced Marketing & Commercial executive in Melinda Madigan who joins the Sharks as a contractor. Melinda will help steer the Marketing, Digital and Brand priorities for the group, we welcome her to the Sharks family and are thrilled to have her join the Executive under this contractual agreement.
Madeline Tynan joined the Committee and Steven Mace appointed as Chair of the Committee.
The Committee will always remain open minded on aligned opportunities but the business and committee are currently inward focused on successful delivery of existing projects. That being the case, there is nothing new to update at this point in time.
Audit and Risk
The past quarter has been dedicated to reviewing our financial plans for 2024 and completing a sound operating Budget for the Sharks next year. In recent years the club's operations have become increasingly complex - not just due to the ongoing development project but the acquisition of the club at Kareela, managing our investment portfolio, and more recently the property at 94 Cronulla Street. In addition, we now have a fully-fledged NRLW team and development squads for our women.
As a result of the aforementioned, the business demands a rigorous budget process to enable management to steer us towards a prosperous future for the Club and its members. Each week during the year the leadership team review the previous weeks numbers compared to the budget and take action as required. The team has done a fantastic job again this year and we expect to announce a full year result better than our budget and improved on 2022. Attention will then turn to completing the Audit of the financial statements by KPMG and putting together mitigation plans for the risks we can see, or imagine we may face in 2024 and beyond.
During November we welcomed the return of the NRL squad who commenced their preparations for the 2024 season.
With continuity in terms of the make-up of our coaching and training staff, as well as our playing group, we are confident of being able to build on what was achieved over the past two seasons and to challenge the leading teams next year.
Welcome to some of the young players currently training with the NRL group and we look forward to seeing their development both during the summer months and in the season ahead.
From a recruitment perspective, Toby Rudolf recently re-signed, while we farewelled Matt Moylan who has accepted an opportunity to continue his career in the UK SuperLeague. The committee continues to meet regularly with the goal of building strong NRL roster lists, through to our pathways teams.
As for our junior representative teams and summer academy, squads have been assembled and their respective pre-seasons have begun. We are fortunate to have an abundance of talent, made up primarily of local players, complemented by key recruits and with experienced and committed coaches and training staff on board, we anticipate continued success in the season ahead.
After an encouraging first season in the NRLW, Carey Bromlow and NRLW head coach Tony Herman in heading up our women’s program, are now firmly focused on 2024 with an aim to build on what was achieved in 2023. An NRLW draw has been announced, with the state associations and the NRL working towards finalising senior pathways competitions. The Sharks will again compete in the Tarsha Gale under-19’s and Lisa Faialo Cup under 17’s.
Also, recently the Cronulla-Sutherland Junior Rugby League celebrated its 60th anniversary. The local JRL and its member clubs have long been an outstanding nursery in support of the Sharks at the district club level, providing loyal support and countless players to our elite junior and senior teams. Congratulations to all at the JRL and to departing JRL Chairman Nathan Waugh.
Congratulations also to John Mannah as the incoming Chairman and to the JRL Executive Committee. We look forward to many more years of working together for the benefit of the junior league clubs and the players who represent them.
Members Information Night
The evening opened with details as to the 2023 financial highlights which included Sharks at Kareela reporting a profit approaching $1million, as well as solid revenue figures across Membership/Ticketing, Merchandise and Commercial, where for a fourth consecutive year 100 per cent of our major partners were retained. All areas reported percentage increases as compared to 2022.
It was a year in which we preserved cash, bought assets and delivered a positive balance sheet.
A significant asset purchased was the former Westpac Bank building at 94 Cronulla Street. We believe it a prudent investment in ensuring the financial future of the Sharks.
A decision has been made to offer 94 Cronulla Street for commercial lease, there has been good enquiry from a number of reputable brands and we look to securing a tenant. As for our Sharks Store merchandise operations, the shop at Sharks at Kareela remains open and will trade through the Christmas period, while we continue to explore options, included amongst those locating the Sharks Store in the new Leagues Club or into the Woolooware Bay Town Centre retail precinct.
Then information was relayed as to the new Sharks Leagues Club at Woolooware. We closed the doors of the old Leagues Club in 2019, were initially working towards a reopening in October of 2021, a completion date that was delayed until February 2022, then to the following January, and finally November of this year. The retail and residential project has also followed similar delays to their timelines along the way.
All that being the case, we thought it necessary to outline key moments and decisions made from when the Sharks first entered discussions, then a Heads of Agreement (HOA), with development partners Capital Bluestone.
Following are charts/diagrams to detail the development timeline, followed by a written summary
With the Sharks facing substantial debt in 2009 and the bank demanding that the debts be serviced, in 2011 the Club entered a HOA for the development of their land. Included was a $10million advance payment. No Sunset Date was entered into at the time, impacting the overall process, through to the current situation we find ourselves in.
In 2012-2013 a concept plan, then a residential project was approved, a year later residential sales commenced, and Parkview was appointed as the builder. In 2015 construction of stage one of the residential was commenced, then completed in 2016. By 2018 Stage 2 residential was complete, Stage 3 commenced, and approval was given for the Concept Plan amendment for Stage 4.
At this point, demolition of existing Club was discussed but determined to not be viable. The Leagues Club shut on December 21, 2019, and an agreed targeted opening date of October 2021 was set.
In the interim, anchor tenants Woolworths and Dan Murphys had been secured for Stage 4 of the development.
In 2020 the Sharks acquired Sporties at Kareela, now Sharks at Kareela, which after navigating through the challenges of Covid has become a viable asset, producing strong trading figures.
In relation to Woolooware Bay Town Centre, the overall project completion was forecast for February 2023, including retail, residential and our Leagues Club. Now as we approach the end of 2023, the project is still incomplete and there has been no Club handover.
The anchor tenants, who now also include Aldi, have a forecast opening in mid-December, with Quest to begin operations alongside the full retail centre, scheduled for opening next February.
In working with all parties, we look to have the roof complete in March 2024, the façade in May-July, with a club opening late in 2024. In short, having no Sunset Date included in the initial agreement in 2011, as of today we have no official club hand over date to commence the fit out, the roof of the current building required replacement, as does the façade, while the delays have resulted in cost escalations and a design review, all presenting considerable challenges which we have been navigating through.
All of the above considered, we thank our Members for their patience and understanding, however while the design has undergone some change, the internal fit out or the look and feel of the club hasn’t been compromised and we remain committed to delivering a first-class facility once complete.
As for PointsBet Stadium, we will maintain the same capacity as season 2023, however the Woolooware Bay retail precinct will be open and the car park operating. Logistics as to game day parking are yet to be confirmed and we will communicate details once they become available.
Finally, the main messaging around our financial situation as explained at the Information Night, detailed and emphasised the value of our assets including the Sharks Leagues Club, Sharks at Kareela, PointsBet Stadium and 94 Cronulla Street, and also included cash at bank. As a result of the healthy valuations and our financial position and with renewed confidence in our brand, banks are prepared to fund our club fit out and/or any future investment opportunities.