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Dear Blue and Gold Army,

This week we announced to our Members and then to all our fans that we have re-signed Jacob Loko. As CEO of the Eels it gives me great pride to tell you we have locked in a new contract with a talented NRL centre who has been part of the Parramatta Eels through Harold Matts, SG Ball, NYC and now first-grade rugby league.

Jacob is not only a fine player but a young man who values loyalty and family, and who has made it clear how much he wants to stay a part of Western Sydney and the Parramatta Eels. Were fortunate to have him as part of the Eels family until at least the end of 2015.

But even as I announce this news, I know you are hurting right now; we all are. We all care passionately about the Eels. We bleed blue and gold, and you sacrifice your time and money to support your team, so a result like that against the Panthers hit us hard.

We have heard your feedback, read your tweets and seen your comments on Facebook. It is important we are all on the same page and that as the Eels Family we are moving forward together, side by side.

For a club with such a proud history, the Eels have been at the bottom end of the premiership table for far too long. As we have said previously we are rebuilding and everything we do is to create long-term success not to provide short term fixes.

When we lose, it is easy for some to assume we are going backwards but the reality is in 2013 we are taking massive steps towards the goals of our 5-year strategic plan.

These are just words, though - what is important is evidence:

  • Our membership continues to grow as we quickly approach a record 16,000 members;

  • We had 4 players selected for their respective Under 20s State of Origin teams Kelepi Tanginoa, Vai Toutai & Junior Paulo for NSW and John Folau as 18th man for QLD;

  • Our Junior League team registrations are at record levels up 9%;

  • Our Harold Matthews (Under 16s) team has made the Grand Final this weekend. The boys play the Rabbitohs at St Marys Stadium this Saturday morning, I will be there so please come down, say gday and cheer on the boys!

  • Our new recruitment and retention plans are in full swing with the signing of Corey Norman and English duo Gareth Hock & Lee Mossop for 2014 in addition to re-signing Jarryd Hayne and Jacob Loko;

  • We continue to refine our elite pathways and academy programs. At present 50% of our NRL squad are developed through our juniors system. We want this to be 85% by 2017.

These positives may not deliver answers tomorrow but they are the building blocks to a brighter future. Everyone here knows we are not where we need to be but we find confidence in knowing that we are working hard in every area of our business to give Ricky and the team the best chance for success.

Ricky Stuart is a great coach and we know he is the man to lead our club back to glory but he needs time to put his stamp on this football team.

Building a strong successful squad and a winning culture takes time. In this day and age you cannot simply buy premierships you must invest in junior development. It may take time for us to see the return on that investment but it is the only way to ensure long-term success.

I know we have your passion but what we need now is your patience and perseverance. I have spoken before about membership being more than a financial commitment to your club. It is an emotional bond you share with your team. It is during the tough times when that bond is most important.

This weekend the boys need you in the trenches with them, in the stands of Parramatta Stadium, as they go into battle with North Queensland. They will be fighting for pride and playing for you, so lets send the boys a message:

Through thick and thin the Blue and Gold Army ARE IN!

Thanks for your ongoing support.

Ken Edwards

CEO Pirtek Parramatta Eels

TWITTER: @kenedwards12
Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels 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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