On behalf of the Board, I want to extend a warm welcome to you and your families for the year ahead. As we head into our first NRL game of the season at CommBank Stadium and our first-ever Eels NRLW home game, I wanted to provide a brief Club update.
Before I continue, I want to express our support and thoughts for all those affected by the Flood Disaster in NSW and QLD from everyone here at the Parramatta Eels Rugby League Club (“Eels or Football Club”).
The images over the last couple of weeks have been heartbreaking and both the Eels and our parent Parramatta Leagues Club (PLC) will be responding in a number of ways to help support our community during this difficult period. We will make some announcements shortly on these initiatives.
After two years of disruption, it has been pleasing to see all our footballing programs returning for the 2022 season. This includes our development and junior representative squads right through to our NRL and our new NRLW sides.
The impact of the NRLW program on our Club has been profound and we are so pleased that the entire Eels community has embraced the team this year. As a Club, we see this as a significant moment in our Club’s history and it has been pleasing to see how committed and passionate our players and coaches are in representing the Eels. I am sure everyone is excited to see their first ever game at CommBank Stadium on Sunday at 1:45 pm.
We head into the NRL season on Sunday with renewed confidence and optimism. Our coaches and players have learned a lot from the back end of last season and it’s clear they are determined to build on this for the season ahead. We are obviously disappointed for Haze Dunster following his injury, but his response to what has taken place shows the quality of him as a person and we look forward to his return to the field next year.
It's been 265 days since we last played at CommBank Stadium, and I know that everyone at our Club is looking forward to returning home on Sunday and playing in front of our Members and fans.
Earlier this week, the PLC released its 2022 Annual Report which shows both organizations are performing very well financially at the same time delivering great outcomes for our Members.
You can access a copy of the 2022 PLC Annual Report HERE(https://www.parraleagues.com.au/annual-report/) and the accompanying Members message from PLC President Greg Monaghan HERE(https://www.parraleagues.com.au/message-from-the-president/).
In relation to the Eels, we continue to ensure that we not only have a profitable and sustainable business but also a strong focus on continuing to grow our revenues so we can invest in our footballing programs.
The Eels reported a standalone profit of $1.047m for the year ended 31 October 2021. This was driven by the continued rise in revenue through being the No.1 NRL Club in memberships, having the highest home NRL crowd average in 2021 before the NSW shutdown, and the acquisitions and renewal of corporate partners including a new three-year contract with our principal partner Aland. Our financial performance was achieved without the need for any financial support from PLC – the first time this has been achieved in consecutive years this century.
The support we continue to receive from our Members and Corporate Partners, despite again encountering challenges in their own lives and businesses in 2021, has been fantastic and I want to again thank both groups on behalf of everyone at the Football Club. We will never take this support for granted and we remain determined to ensure we honor this commitment by delivering success both on and off the field.
Long Term Stability
As I have said on a number of occasions, stability at a Board and Management level is critical for the Eels (and PLC) to achieve long term success. Our current performance on and off the field has been achieved because we have had stable leadership across the entire Football Club for the last 5 years.
The same can be said for PLC which has now been able to operate with a stable Board and Management for the past 2 years.
This strong commitment to governance ensures that both the Eels and the PLC Board are able to focus on our long-term growth.
Two recent examples reinforce this point:
· the PLC is about to undertake its first major development in many years with construction of the $5m Eels Lane alfresco restaurant; and
· this year, the Eels were able to launch its woman’s NRL program.
These initiatives are important for the growth of both the PLC and the Eels and can only be achieved by management teams who have the support of stable and professional Boards.
Upcoming Parramatta Leagues Club Election
I am raising the importance of stability and good governance as we move into the annual PLC election period. Voting commenced on Monday 7th March and will conclude next Sunday 20th March 2022.
I am sure all Members will agree that it has been refreshing that both the PLC and Eels have not been subject to the same public ructions of board instability that used to take place in our Club and can sometimes still occur in other sporting Clubs.
To all Eels Members who are also PLC Members eligible to vote, I strongly encourage you to cast your vote in the upcoming PLC elections. By casting your vote, you ensure that the ongoing governance of both Clubs is in safe hands.
If you are a PLC member and have been a member for the last 3 years you are eligible to vote. Your vote is important, and I encourage you to exercise your right and vote to ensure that the best possible available candidates are elected.
If you are eligible to vote you should have now received your voting material electronically. If you are eligible but have not received the materials, then please email PLC at AGM@parraleagues.com.au for further clarification.
It is very important for the Eels that we have a stable PLC Board that continues to focus on good governance and on growing the organisation as a whole.
It is an honour to be Chairman of the Parramatta Eels and our Football Club remains strongly committed to driving continuous improvement and ensuring we bring success both on and off the field.
I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday at CommBank Stadium. Please make sure you are there early in time to watch our new Eels NRLW play their first-ever home game with kick off at 1:45pm.
Go the Eels!
Parramatta Eels Chairman
Eels Member no. 147888