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As interim CEO for the Pirtek Parramatta Eels, Matt Phelan isn't surprised when people describe his arrival in the top job as a 'baptism of fire'.

With years of experience under his belt from roles at the London Olympics and the A-League, Phelan's time as Interim CEO coincides with some crucial decision-making at the club, including the negotiations for a new major sponsor to take over from Pirtek in 2014.

At the announcement of the Eels' new four-year partnership with the Northern Territory Government at Parramatta Stadium on Thursday, Phelan described the new deal with the Territory as a key step on the rebuilding trail for the Blue and Gold.

And the life-long Eels fan expects to be able to deliver positive news to fans later in the year about both sponsorship opportunities and on-field recruits for 2014.

"We're rebuilding and have been for a little while," Phelan said.

"You'll see off the back of this Northern Territory deal plus a couple of other things we're looking to announce very shortly with our player signings, that we'll be a much better team on the pitch next year."

"We can't make any announcements about [our 2014 jersey sponsors] just now."

"But we're in deep negotiations with a number of prospective sponsors, and we're in the process of filling our full inventory, so we'll be in a good place this time next year."

The four-year deal with the Northern Territory will see the Eels head to both Alice Springs - for a week of training ahead of a pre-season match in the red centre - and Darwin in the 2014 season, but Phelan has equally big plans for the club's home in Parramatta.

He says despite the success of the Western Sydney Wanderers A League side, Sydney's West remains rugby league heartland and the perfect location to expand the Eels' facilities with a new Centre of Excellence.

"We're friends of the Wanderers, and we're co-tenants at this stadium," Phelan said.

"We wish them every success, but at the end of the day this area here, this is Parramatta. This ground was built on the back of a rugby league team."

When it comes to possible locations, Phelan says the decision will come down to one of 3 or 4 parcels of land near Parramatta Stadium. And when it comes to timelines on the development, he says it's one of the club's key priorities.

"One of the things we need to do is improve our training facilities, there's no question about that," Phelan said.

"We train at different locations and we need to consolidate that."

"We want to be industry leading, so when we do build that Centre of Excellence we want to make sure that is state-of-the-art, and it's certainly something we're pursuing with real haste."
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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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