Continuos improvement rather than sweeping changes is incoming Parramatta boss Jim Sarantinos’ edict after taking charge of the Eels.
For the first time in years, a Parramatta chief executive is coming into the job without having to give the club a dramatic makeover.
Sarantinos helped lead the culture change at the Eels first as a board member then as the club’s chief operating officer.
Parramatta has long been a revolving door for club bosses but the club found stability under former chief executive Bernie Gurr and chairman Sean McElduff. This has given Sarantinos the confidence in helping lead a new era at the Eels.
“The club has a really exciting future,” Sarantinos said.
“I’ve been around the club for three and a half years and I think about the situation from where the club was to where it is now, we’ve made a huge amount of progress on and off the field. We have sorted out the front office where we clearly have stability at board level and we have seen very little turnover.
“We are increasing capability in the front office. There has been a clear focus on how we want our football department to operate and our football roster to be constructed.
“Equally, we want to be known as a club that has a strong focus on our members, corporate and community partners and our large fan base across the country.
The 39-year-old spent two decades at Ferrier Hodgson, including seven years as a partner. He joined the Eels board in 2016 when the club underwent a raft of governance reforms.
Sarantinos stood down from the board in June to take on the chief operating officer role at the Eels.
The success of Bankwest Stadium also adds to the club optimism. Next is the club’s $40 million community rugby league facility in Kellyville which will house both the club’s administration and football programs.
“While our facilities have never been an excuse, there is an exciting opportunity for us to come under the one roof,” Sarantinos said.
“That will help us enhance our connectivity across the whole club.
“Over time we will have one of the best rugby league facilities in the world. We will have five training fields which aligns well with our development club philosophy. We will be able to run our NRL, second grade, women’s and junior rep programs all in the one location. It will allow our juniors to be surrounded by the elite athletes they aspire to be.”
The Eels also have stability on the field. They locked down big name players this year, re-signed coach Brad Arthur until 2021 and finished in the top five. There is further optimism with the arrivals of Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Ryan Matterson.
The Eels focus will be on retaining Dylan Brown, Reed Mahoney and Shaun Lane.
“Our roster is developing nicely,” Sarantinos said.
“We have an exciting core of young players that we can build the club around. They are not just good players, they are good people which is just as important in building a team that can deliver sustained success.
“We want to be able to come into each year with a reasonable expectation that we will be competing for a top four position and challenging for a premiership and building on the stability we’ve created will be key to this”