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Chairman's Address - First Quarter - 2024

Welcome to the 2024 first quarter Chairman's Address following a successful and well attended Annual General Meeting held at Sharks at Kareela last Wednesday night.

Following is business conducted and projects being undertaken by our various committees, most of which was covered off and detailed at the AGM.

In some recent highlights, CEO Dino Mezzatesta and myself met and secured a generous donation from Mike Dorrell, an extremely successful Australian businessman, now based in New York.

Mike's financial contribution will involve a five year donation and we have no doubt he will continue to be a strong supporter of the Club for many years to come.

Also announced at the AGM, we have secured Rileys gym as a long-term tenant for our property acquisition at 94 Cronulla Street. This new lease arrangement will provide a substantial financial return on the Cronulla Street investment.

The election process for positions on the Sharks Board also took place earlier this month, with the existing members retaining their positions uncontested.  One of our Directors didn't renominate for election and is moving to an appointed position.

I can't express how important continuity is to the long-term success of any organisation. It is even more important when we have a team which is performing well and discharging its responsibilities with such cohesion both in and out of the Boardroom.

Congratulations to Dave Nicholson, Patrick Bourke, Morry Waked, who renominated and to Martin Kennedy who returns to the Board. Matt McGrath moves from elected to appointed Director.

In summary, we are very fortunate to have such a well-balanced and contributing Board, contributing many hours and personal in supporting the wider business to achieve success.

Thanks to those who attended the AGM and also to our entire Membership for your continued interest and support.

Remuneration & Appointments Committee

Firstly, I am delighted to report that the recent changes initiated by our CEO, including the appointment of Vinh Tran as a new Head of Community and Government Relations, as well as welcoming Melinda Madigan to our Commercial Executive team. Both are progressing seamlessly and yielding positive results, with these additions bringing valuable expertise and are contributing significantly to the advancement of our business objectives.

Throughout the quarter, our committee convened to address several key matters. One of our primary focuses was the implementation of an associated governance annual calendar, which will provide a structured framework for our activities moving forward. This initiative aims to enhance transparency, accountability, and efficiency in our decision-making processes.

Additionally, we have arranged for a distinguished Professor in CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) to present to the Board and key executives. This presentation promises to offer valuable insights into emerging trends and best practices in education and workforce development, aligning with our strategic goals.

Finally, we have dedicated attention to focusing on key executive retention. Recognising the importance of talent retention in driving organisational success, we have explored various strategies to ensure the continued engagement and satisfaction of our key leadership personnel.

In summary, the Remunerations and Appointments Committee remains committed to supporting the long-term growth and sustainability of our organisation. We are confident that our efforts will contribute to the achievement of our collective objectives and look forward to updating you on further progress in the future.

On this committee is Morry Waked, Madeline Tynan and myself, with the R&A committee again playing its part in the independence and interviewing process of both appointments.

Investment Committee

The broader economic landscape continues to stabilise with the effect of the rapid increases to the cash rate over the majority of 2023 resulting in headline CPI trending towards the preferred range of the RBA. That coupled with last week's announcement of a record low unemployment rate of 3.7% has provided little impetus for any change to the current RBA cash rate, with most economists agreeing a consensus view that there will likely be a continued holding pattern for at least the next few months to further control inflation downwards.

From an investment view, the current 4.35% cash rate continues to provide strong returns on our core Metrics Credit Partners investment, above our forecast rates of return.

The committee continues to work with management on further opportunities to consider, however the successful delivery of current core existing projects remains the focus at this point.

Investment Committee and Management will meet again next month, and we continue to review new investments as they are presented, along with monitoring the current portfolio so we can pivot the invested funds as required within our approved Investment Strategy if an opportunity presents.

It is important to note that any or all investment proposals are sent to this committee for review and recommendation before going to the Board. For that reason, we have independent representation on this committee as well as Board participation. Martin Kennedy chairs this committee, working alongside Matt McGrath, Morry Waked and myself from the Board, while externally we have Drew Townsend complementing the skillset of the committee and in providing independent review and feedback.

As announced at the AGM on Wednesday, Lucas Dorrell, brother of Mike Dorrell, will be joining the Investment committee. Lucas is a successful businessman owning a private equity business based out of Texas in the US. His addition will broaden the Club's skillset on asset value engineering, international markets/opportunities and capital raising.

Nominations Committee

Last quarter we announced the appointment of Wayne Knight to the Group Board, filling a casual vacancy. Wayne's extensive knowledge and experience in the Club and Gaming sector have already proven to be immensely beneficial to the Sharks Group. His insights and expertise are already making a positive impact, and we anticipate continued success resulting from his valuable contributions.

Throughout the quarter, our committee has been diligently focused on several key areas to further support management on the growth and effectiveness of the Sharks Group. Firstly, we have been actively interviewing potential candidates for potential future vacancies and committee roles, ensuring that we have a strong pool of talent to draw from to meet the evolving needs of our organisation.

Additionally, we have been working on the implementation of an associated governance annual calendar, which will provide a structured framework for our governance activities. This initiative is aimed at enhancing transparency, accountability, and efficiency in our decision-making processes.

Furthermore, we have been diligently preparing for the annual Board and Chairman performance reviews, ensuring that our leadership remains aligned with best practices and continues to deliver optimal performance.

Lastly, we have initiated early discussions on the annual review of committees, their performance, and the contributions of their members. This review process is essential for ensuring that our committees remain effective and aligned with the strategic objectives of the Sharks Group.

Morry Waked, Madeline Tynan and myself make up this committee which is responsible for ensuring the Board composition is well balanced, while also identifying any skill set that may be required to assist the Board and management meet its upcoming strategic objectives.

Audit and Risk

The Audit and Risk Committee has three items currently under review.

  1. Through external experts we are conducting a review of the Sharks off-field financial and administrative performance by comparing ourselves against other NRL clubs. We have a goal of being Top 4 on and off the field and by benchmarking ourselves in all aspects of off field performance we can judge if we are on track to achieve this important goal.
  2. Updating our annual review of the external risks we face and ensuring we plan for the things that can go wrong, thinking about what is likely to happen as well as what may have a significant impact on the Sharks. This includes looking at our insurance programme, at cyber threats, salary cap compliance, business performance and possible damage to our reputation.
  3. We are undertaking an internal review of all our tax obligations past, present and in planning for the future.

The Committee works with the Board and Management ensuring we have exhausted every possible option and tried every avenue on our journey to completing the development of our new Club for members.

I would like to thank the A&R team, headed by Patrick Bourke, for their vigorous approach to the governance of the organization. The professionalism and time that goes into annual accounts preparation and review does not go unnoticed.

The A&R will now turn its attention to supporting and reviewing management for the FY24 financial performance and later in the year for the preparation of the FY25 budgets.

Building Committee

It is fair to say business involving our Building committee is one of the biggest items on the Club's agenda currently, if not in in the Club's history.

The various transactions and reiterations of construction contracts throughout the years haven't left us in the best position to control our own destiny, which we covered in an extensive report at the members information night of November last year.

We continue to work with the developers of the Woolooware Bay Town Centre on the progression of the Leagues Club construction, with a roof complete, drainage currently being installed and the façade the next major project on the building schedule.

The Board and management, including the Building Committee, are doing an amazing job in working towards delivering a positive outcome from what is a difficult situation.

This committee is chaired by Matt McGrath and I am also part of this committee.

Life Membership

At the AGM on Wednesday night it was voted unanimously to make a change to the constitution in giving members a new framework for our Life Membership criteria in awarding this prestigious accolade.

The development of this committee is to introduce some structure around Life Membership and to also provide the right recognition to those who were, and are the ultimate foundations of this great Club.

An update was shared with members, including a video presentation delivered by current life members, Sharks immortals and members of the Life Membership committee.

Thanks to Matt McGrath who chairs this committee and is supported by Patrick Bourke, Morry Waked and myself from the Board, with Ash Taylor our Club Historian also sitting on this committee in adding enormous value.

Football Committee

A strong win over the Raiders while missing a number of our regular team members, capped off a solid first month of the 2024 season for our NRL squad heading into a round five bye.

The first four games has also seen the Club celebrate milestones, perhaps highlighted by Dale Finucane's 250th NRL game and the 100th NRL and Sharks game for Jack Williams. The Raiders match was the 50th Sharks game for Nicho Hynes and Cam McInnes also played his 50th Sharks match during the opening rounds.

Congratulations also to Tuku Hau Taphua and Billly Burns who made their Sharks NRL debuts.

In the junior reps, the Under-17 Harold Matthews team finished fourth, while the Tarsha Gale Sharks have also qualified for the Finals. Good luck to both teams and to coaches Brad Kelly (Matthews Cup) and Isaac Michael (Tarsha Gale) in the weeks to come.

For those who have completed their junior rep seasons, thanks to players, coaches and support staff for your hard work and dedication.

Junior league is also about to get underway, and we wish all local Cronulla-Sutherland district clubs and teams good luck for the 2024 season. The local JRL is reporting good registration numbers and to John Mannah, his executive and board, all the best for the season ahead. 

In relation to the Football Committee, it provides Board governance over supplements control, player education and training, NRL protocol adherence, wellbeing, and integrity matters, while also supporting the local junior league, their players and officials.

This is the foundation that underpins the NRL, NRLW and pathways teams to be well looked after in allowing them to perform best on/off the field, week in week out.  

The Football Committee is chaired by Dave Nicholson, I also sit on this committee alongside representatives from our executive management team and our NRL Football Department.

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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