Parramatta target new CEO for Eels to replace
Parramatta’s search for a new chief executive has the potential to cause a domino effect across the NRL as the Eels eye off some of the most influential figures in the game to take charge of the resurgent club.
Parramatta officials confirmed they would advertise for a new chief executive next week, to replace Bernie Gurr at the end of the year, but it is understood there are key figures in the club who have a huge opinion of Melbourne chief executive Dave Donaghy.
Brisbane chief executive Paul White, whose contract runs out at the end of the year, could also be sounded out over his interest in moving to Sydney and taking over the running of a club widely regarded as a sleeping giant of rugby league.
Should White decide to seek greener pastures, The Australian has been told that Donaghy would be a strong contender for the role at the Broncos. White is widely regarded as one of, if not the best club boss in the NRL, having turned the Broncos into a financial juggernaut on his watch.
White is the highest-paid club boss in the game, but the Eels would have no problem meeting any financial demands given they are backed by a powerful and affluent leagues club. Donaghy has been in charge at the Storm for four years, having been appointed as the youngest chief executive in the game when he took charge of the club.
The Storm have maintained the rage on his watch, the club leading the way on and off the field. That has turned heads in the corridors of power at Parramatta.
Gurr stepped into the breach at Parramatta when the Eels were in the midst of drama, still reeling from a salary cap scandal and suffering massive financial losses off the field.
The club lost $12 million in 2016 but that figure was reduced to around $4 million last year as Gurr set about reshaping their finances.
The club has also been on an upward curve on the field, this season in particular. After finishing with the wooden spoon last year, the Eels look bound for the finals.
“If you look at the stage of the club when Bernie came, it needed to be stabilised,” Eels chair Sean McElduff said.
“He was perfect for that role. I think what we will do is look for someone who is a little bit different. I don’t know if that person is in rugby league — I genuinely don’t know.
“If we want to get to where we want to get to, we need to grow our commercial and membership base. Whoever comes in will be someone who is very strong in the non-football side of things.
“I feel like we have stabilised the club, we have regained our reputation with all our stakeholders, we’re on track with the footy department. So the next area has to be what I call the front office.
“There will be a heavy emphasis on that because I feel like we have good footy nous in the place.”
Meanwhile, former Newcastle centre Jesse Ramien has toured Canterbury’s training base as he steps up his search for a new club. The Bulldogs are one of several clubs interested in recruiting Ramien, although they face competition from Wests Tigers, Cronulla and potentially North Queensland Cowboys.