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Parramatta has finally experienced success on the field but it has come at a considerable cost, with the football club expected to post another league-high loss of more than $10 million.

The Eels played finals football for the first time since their fairytale 2009 grand final appearance after finishing the regular season in fourth place. However, the club's performance off the field wasn't as impressive. Parramatta are still in the process of coming up with an audited figure, but it's expected the result for the financial year will be a loss of at least $10 million.

It is only a slightly better result than the previous financial year, a $12 million loss. That outcome was the worst in NRL history as the 16 clubs lost a combined $53.4 million.

It was thought that Parramatta's blowout was a one-off; the result of the salary cap scandal, the $750,000 fine that came with it, big payouts to Anthony Watmough and Will Hopoate after contractual disputes, more than $1 million in legal bills, a raft of payouts that came with a turnover in staff and a loss of sponsorship revenue.

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However, some underlying issues appear to remain as the Eels continue to be the NRL's biggest spenders at a time when the Brisbane Broncos are the only club consistently in the black.

Parramatta went through the entire season without a major sponsor and have yet to sign one for 2018. They are also in a legal dispute with their former major backer, Dyldam, over alleged unpaid bills.

The Eels boasted club record membership numbers totalling almost 25,000, the third-highest in the NRL, after emerging from the cap scandal. The Eels are currently playing home matches at ANZ Stadium while their new ground at Parramatta is being built.

Upon coming to power, Eels chairman Max Donnelly publicly stated his intention to slash the funding from the Parramatta Leagues Club to the footy club by about half for this financial year. However, a fresh blowout in costs will result in the leagues club cutting another hefty cheque.

"The accounts are being finalised now, we haven't done them, but I've got a pretty good idea of where we're going to be," Donnelly said. "It's obviously better than last year but not as good as I'd like. There are a whole lot of factors that contribute. Not having a major sponsor is one issue. The deal that was done at ANZ is shocking for us, you can get an extra 10,000 in and get no more money. It is a really bad deal. We virtually make nothing out of playing games of football there.

"We're stuck with the deal, it was done before I got there. They were worried about where they could play and ANZ was the only place they could play. They rushed into this deal that wasn't very favourable."

In a bid to ensure clubs are financially viable, the NRL has increased club grants to 130 per cent of the salary cap. To ensure the money is spent prudently, there will be a soft cap on football department spending of $5.7 million from next season.

Regardless, recent history suggests the days of buying premierships are over. Cronulla won their maiden title at a time when they were ranked 15th for football department spending. The Sharks and previous premiers North Queensland and South Sydney have consistently been ranked outside the NRL's top spenders.

Donnelly said his goal remained to halve the Eels' reliance on the leagues club and hoped the ambition was achievable next season.

"That was the goal. We do fund our juniors, there's our rep program," he said.

"We probably had too many second-tier players. We're addressing a lot of issues. It will certainly be a lot better next year.

"I would think it would be around $5-$6 million next year."

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Bottom line (boom tish) is we need to get much better at commercial. I've been saying we're totally inept on this front for at least five years, and I've not seen anything to change my mind in the last 12 months. We're just fortunate that so too is most every other NRL club and we've got a Leagues Club to make up for it. 

I've not seen anything to change my mind in the last 12 months

That is an amazingly disingenuous comment Phil. What more could you have possibly expected in the past 12 months. I am not concerned that we do not have a major sponsor yet for the reasons you complain i.e. commercial.

The product has more to offer than what is presently available....that is commercial in itself.....it smacks of self belief and confidence in what we can be.

There are some subtle issue's like a charity on the jersey last year etc....but when you consider everything that has happened and where we were before Max's appointment.....if we had gone on with all the things we were trying to do.....you would be delighted now!

Be patient Phil and it is my prediction you may be on that board within 5 years.

That's rubbish, Poppa. If you were interviewing someone for these roles, and they said they were not capable of affecting turnaround in 18 months, you wouldn't hire them. There is no way in the world, commercial has met budget. In any real business if you miss budget to the extent I would presume it has been missed by, you get the sack. NRL clubs just go back to the Leagues Club and say "can I have some more please". 

What this results in, is cuts to the football operation. There is no way in hell that the Leagues Club is going to sustain losses like that, when its got a development to fund. I went to a marketing seminar where the head of Man United's brand was presenting, and he put up a slide whereby ManU's goal is to tread a virtuous circle. You make money, which means you can invest in sport, so you are more successful, so you make more money and so on. You can't just keep saying we've got the Leagues Club so it doesn't matter how much we lose.

I said at the start of the season, that the club had no narrative, which is the only way you change a negative perception. That hasn't changed. If the club ends up getting a marquee brand as their major sponsor then I'll put my hand up, and say I was dead wrong, but I can't see anything that a major brand puts their name too. 

I've said this like a dozen times so I don't want to endlessly repeat myself and its only going to come across as marketing-wanker speak, but the marketing services sector has fundamentally changed over the past few years, and I'm yet to see us change the proposition we take to market in the slightest.

And can people stop wanting to tarnish people who have genuine critiques as negative nancies. I'm sorry, I've now lived through nearly a decade of mismanagement, so I'm not forgiving on this front any more. I can recognise the brand damage, and when I gave me summary of how I thought we were faring, I made allowances for it, but $10m is huge and anyone who says it isn't basically is doing an ostrich impersonation. The thing I have always loved about Brad Arthur is I feel he demands accountability - that's the culture I want the club to develop, and that has to reach through every level of the club.

Struck a nerve there didn't we....

I'll repeat what I said i.e.

I've not seen anything to change my mind in the last 12 months

That is an amazingly disingenuous comment Phil. What more could you have possibly expected in the past 12 months. I am not concerned that we do not have a major sponsor yet for the reasons you complain i.e. commercial.

Now tell me why a board is accountable for budget when it has been sitting for less 12 months. Boards approve budgets, they don't set them. 

The club executive and Max as the administrator would have done this....it would be accountable in detail and we have not seen this detail....but you want to hang them out to dry.

The rhetoric in regard to Manchester United is an entirely different proposition, tell me what Rugby League club with the possible exception of the Bronco's could get near such a model.

Bernie has had less than 12 months to give an ownership and flavour to something that has had no recognition outside of the internal management of Parramatta.....that is he took over a tainted brand and the marketing perception of that would have been as dead as Mushy's sex drive.

My critique is simply that you have not given it enough time.

Can you tell me if the individual board members have portfolio's, who is the current CFO of the football club, who owns the board responsibility other than the CEO.

I will get excited when I see the numbers and read the commentary.

When that $10m breaks up, lets see what we could have done about the expenses side......the income side which I assume is your main criticism "just has to be formative" at this stage. No home ground and zero beginning......credibility needs to be built and this process is in place....dynamics of the digitisation and commercial side must been in a planning phase......or if not you might just have a point.

LOL, wisdom wins?

Then you lose, oh flaccid one....again.

You didn't hit a nerve at all. In fact, you're making a much bigger deal out of this than I originally did. I posted a one paragraph passing comment that I'm still not happy with our commercial. What I didn't do a) is blame the board - in fact I've posted a comment elsewhere in this blog, saying a board can't be held accountable for short-term financials. b) I've also said elsewhere that it's reasonable to give the CEO 12 months grace, because he did inherit a badly damaged brand.

I've also made the point that NRL clubs - and this gets back to their history of being backed by Leagues Club - as a whole are very poorly run businesses (and indeed many would say the same of the governing body). None, of which means I can't hold the club to higher expectations. If you use the Wanderers and Giants as benchmarks, we should be doing much, much better. 

Fair enough, it seems that we are agreeing.....your response was an exclamation of "rubbish" and I believed it needed to be better understood by readers, that boards don't do the things that some readers on here think they do.

Your explanatory post did say that but I think your first post was contextually misleading.

I remember Gurr talking about this awhile ago saying the factional issues the club had were a commercial nightmare that we're going to take time to fix.I guess here in lies the issue of the above mentioned.Im pretty sure with the stability the club has shown now and going foward getting a naming rights deal shouldn't be to far away.

It can't be under estimated how much all our off field dramas have hurt us in the market place 10 foot and barge pole is a saying I'd probably equate it too.
Dropping 12 Million down to 10 Million is still a 16.67% improvement, not bad in one year.
We went from the biggest disaster to hit the club since they erected a Ray Price statue , spending hundreds of thousands on lawyers etc , to making the top 4 and all they were able to scrape back was 2 million ? Yeah that's fecking awesome .

Imagine if we made the GF and won the premiership , we may have broken even .

The people on this site will react to this with whatever agenda they carry.

Most would not have a clue when it comes to financial management.

The insurance policy that is the leagues club is exactly that....we would not exist without it, but the fact is it is ours and our strength.

We have performed well since the disasters of 2016 with probably the strongest management in the NRL...including the NRL itself (I would love to see Max tear that apart!).

WE need to be positive go forward and just emphasise that we are the club of now and the future with everything going for us.

Patience is something I note we don't have a lot of.....we have been waiting over 30 years for a premiership.....but I'm waiting for the day we are an automatic top 4 and every year is a quest from there!

The management process is there, lets support it and stay strong......"be your best".

You nailed it popps.


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