So after a bit of back and forth with the club, I'm delighted to announce that this site's push to create a vehicle for facilitating a supporter-based TPA is in the position to move forward and with your support can become a reality.
I have set-up a form for people to express their interest and show their intent in joining the 1Eyed Eel Coterie. Click here to access the form and from that I will be establishing an email discussion group to take its organisation forward. The link if you wish to share it is: https://goo.gl/pKclKA I want to assure everyone that the information in the form is totally private and confidential and will be seen by no-one other than myself without your direct permission.
I've created an FAQ below to answer questions but please feel free to contribute any questions you may have, ideas, feedback, etc in the comments.
What is the 1Eyed Eel Coterie?
The primary purpose of the 1Eyed Eel Coterie is to establish a formal supporter-run company with the overarching mission of allowing our members to more formally and directly contribute value to the club. Our initial goal will be to set-up an initial TPA for a player to be chosen by the group.
Will the club support this?
Absolutely. In the first instance, it must be stressed that the club has absolutely no direct involvement with the group nor will it provide any financial assistance. However, the club has indicated that it will assist where it can within the guidelines of the NRLs TPA rules. In the first instance, this has seen the club raise our initiative with the NRL for in-principle approval and it has agreed to consider other requests we may have going forward. Plus the club will use the resources it has (including the Schu) to make sure we're doing everything within NRL guidelines.
So the NRL is good with this?
The NRL won't give final approval until we actually sign a contract with a player however based on the current guidelines ruling third-parties this kind of coterie arrangement certainly appears to represent a legitimate and allowable third-party. This is of course subject to us meeting certain criteria such as there being tangible outcomes the coterie would receive from the player (this might be attendance at our events, a column on the site, etc). Coteries are common in the AFL (see here and here for example) and the indication is the NRL would be encouraging of similar coterie structures in our code as part of their wider review of third party agreements.
Sounds awesome. How do I get involved?
Our coterie will be membership-based and will involve an annual membership fee. My goal is for every dime of membership fees to go towards TPAs and as such we will rely on volunteers and hopefully business and individual support to cover some of the costs of operating the coterie. I'm imagining different levels of support with different benefits so as to be inclusive but also raise as much as we can.
No I mean really get involved. Seriously, I want to help.
And seriously, I want your help. On the membership form there is an area for you to list any skills or ways you think you might be willing and able to contribute. We will have a board and formal roles within the coterie and there will always be a way for any member to contribute and help out. Again, please indicate your interest on the form.
What are you committing to Phil?
I'm going to do everything I can to make this happen. I will be putting my hand up to chair the coterie and drive it forward. I will be using the amazing platform that this website gives us to get the word out and using the relationships and experience I have to make things happen but I have to stress that I need your help. This has to be a genuine supporter-community initiative.
I like the idea but I don't like Phil or his website
I was undecided whether to launch this off the back of the website because I realise it's not everybody's cup of tea. However, given the idea sprung from this community plus I also feel the advantages of being tied to the 1Eyed brand outweigh the negative. However, I want to stress that I want this coterie to be as inclusive as possible. You don't have to be a member of the site or contribute to be part of the coterie.
So what's next?
Please register your interest via the form and then we will be organising an inaugural meeting at the Leagues Club for some time in October based on the responses I get. This will happen even if it's just me sitting down with my imaginary friends. We'll start handing out roles and responsibilities, discuss strategy and get this thing rolling. I'm going with the build it and they will come mentality.
What else can we get out of the coterie?
Let me stress that I want us to be focused on achieving our initial goal first and foremost. So we'll be focused on getting up and running, raising funds and organising initial meetings and events. However, everything I have ever agitated for in relation to this club has been on the basis of my belief in the active involvement of our fanbase. Having run this site for more than a decade, I've probably had more supporter/member contact than anybody. I know how many smart and talented people would love to be able to do more for their club and the bigger picture for the coterie will be to provide ways for our members to do that. That may mean being a lobby-point for issues that are important to us - whether it be to lobby government/council, the NRL or the club itself. I previously floated the idea of a Supporter Trust and I believe the coterie can take on some of that responsibility as well over time. I've got a million ideas for ways to leverage this group and I'm sure once we form a collective brainstrust the possibilities surrounding our coterie are unlimited.
How will we decide on a player to support?
When setting this up, my initial reservation was - should I really be asking for money from members to generate more income for some already highly-paid players? However, I feel strongly where we can make the greatest difference is in supporting those players who may be on second-tier or minimum wage contracts. My expectations for how much we raise at our first attempt is modest but some of our guys bust their bodies for very modest salaries and it would give me great satisfaction to do even a little bit to provide additional support for one of these guys. In the end, I imagine we'll lend our support democratically via a vote.
A very big hat-tip to Snapper for originally floating this idea and to Sixties for pushing it forward to the point where it seemed practical to take the next steps as well as everyone who pledged their support on those blogs. Now let's make it actually happening. And please share and bring others into the fold.