While there has been a lot of hype surrounding the upcoming season for the Wests Tigers, it was surprising that numbers at the Balmain AGM held this morning appeared to be down on previous years. Nevertheless this didn’t prevent a wealth of information being divulged from across a range of topics. Chairman David Trodden was joined by new Wests Tigers CEO Stephen Humphreys and Coach Tim Sheens to answer questions from the members.
Please click “Read More” to read the summary of the meeting.
Humphreys Talks 2010
When asked to reflect on the past 8 months at the helm of the Joint Venture, Stephen Humphreys said that he was enjoying his time at the club and was happy with the direction that it was going. Coming on board midway through last season meant that he was able to observe and examine the procedures during the season proper, then plan and implement a raft of changes heading into the new year, finishing by saying that the club was in a terrific shape.
Humphreys highlighted the fact that the club was dominating the media this offseason for all the right reasons. As a result Season Ticket sales were up about 60% on the same time last year and that this was definitely helping the bottom line. Corporate and sponsorship sales were also up by a similar amount.
In regards to home ground allocations, Humphreys commented that the move to the 4/4/3/1 split was important as games at Leichhardt and Campbelltown were deemed as essential, although he strongly stressed that this arrangement was the “mix to use for a while”. He reported that the development works at Campbelltown and Leichhardt are looking great and they are contributing factors in the increase in the number of games at these venues, however the corporate and spectator amenities at the SFS as well as the guaranteed income streams meant that the club was sold on keeping games at Moore Park. Perhaps as a bittersweet endnote, Humphreys said that capacity at Leichhardt and Campbelltown was too low for the marquee games.
Corporate sponsorship was highlighted as major positive for the club this season. Humphreys explained that Proton was indicating that they would pull out as a result of the GFC, however the success of the club towards the latter part of last season ensured that they stayed on board in a lesser role. From this the club was able to bring on board MKB. TrendMicro has also recently signed as the new back-of-shorts sponsor.
As a result of the new sponsorship agreement and renewed interest in the club, the Wests Tigers jersey is now valued at $2m, putting the club in the top 3 of the NRL. The Balmain/Wests heritage jerseys will each be worn twice this season.
In stark contrast to the events surrounding former CEO Scott Longmuir’s resignation, Humphreys and Sheens both expressed sincere admiration of each other’s work. Both men, standing side by side, emphasised the great culture at the club and the particularly positive attitude that Sheens enforces.
The topic of Lote Tuqiri was raised early in the meeting with a few key facts being revealed. Humphreys told Members that meetings between Tuqiri and the club were “genuine” in October but the club remained patient. As time went on and ‘push came to shove’, Lote’s form at Leicester meant that he was being seriously chased by French Rugby Union and Leicester, so much so that Leicester got wind of Humphreys’ planned trip to the UK and gave Lote the week off, sending him to Euro Disney to prevent Humphreys from finalising any deal; hence the delays in the signing during that week. Since then Leicester have been very cooperative.
It was revealed that Tim Sheens was one of the key negotiators in Lote’s signing and they have continued to remain in close contact. Sheens said that Lote will be present at two training sessions next week and be ready for Round 1 on the wing, although he joked that the media coverage of the club over the next week will be huge and that “we really should get Lote a Tigers polo or something”.
Sheens on 2010
Tim Sheens discussed various issues in regards to the upcoming season, most importantly the position of halfback. As he has said before, Sheens views the halves as the same position with a different number on the back, only that one operates left and the other on the right. He highlighted that Darren Lockyer is the only tradition 5/8 left in the game.
Sheens said that Tim Moltzen will be used a utility, saying that Moltzen is best in the Number 1 and that Moltzen himself prefers fullback, although he will be used in various positions throughout the year, including halfback. Robert Lui was also discussed and Sheens revealed that he probably won’t see the whole season in first grade due to his age and experience.
Jason Cayless was said to have come to the club in “poor shape” and as such his salary cap value was low, however he is looking good and Sheens expects him to be about six games away from hitting good form. Mitch Brown will be used in the early rounds with Sheens using him as a fullback, winger and centre. English recruit Mark Flanagan was also rated highly by Sheens and he expects him to be “in the mix”.
Sheens reported that Tame Toupu was still four to five weeks away from recovering from his knee injury and that he is one of the biggest players in the club. As such Sheens will use him as a prop and this was something that was agreed upon when he originally signed.
Arana Taumata was reported to be back from his leg injury for Round 1 and that his off-season behaviour has been good. Sheens said that Taumata and Blake Lazarus will be the BRET halves, shifting the 110kg Darren Nicholls possibly to hooker.
Liam Fulton and Daniel Fitzhenry were both impressing Sheens and he plans to use both as a right edge forward and utility respectively. He also rated NYC player Ben Murdoch as a super player of the future and that Matt Hyland would be NYC captain.
Leagues Club and the Wests Tigers
Stephen Humphreys indicated that the club was trying to wean itself off the support of the Leagues Clubs. He highlighted that this was something that the joint venture has been trying to do for years and that it has given the club a very good head start as the other competitor clubs face drastic financial issues. Interestingly he said that eventually the very structure of the Joint Venture would change as a result, however he did not attempt to put a time scale on this.
In regards to the development at TIGERS, Chairman David Trodden and CEO Tim Camiller said that the scrapping of the CBD Metro line to Rozelle by the NSW Labor Government meant that the timeframe for the development would be shortened and that the club should be open within three years. Compensation for the “stuffing around” by the government was being sought.
Tim Camiller also noted that with the upcoming State and Federal elections the club was endeavouring to secure more funds for the continued redevelopment of Leichhardt Oval.
The new acquisitions at Five Dock and Sydney Markets were expected to go well. The club has secured two reputable caterers at Five Dock (Italian) and the Sydney Markets (Tinga - Asian). The club hopes that this will signal the growth of the brand and depending on the success of these venues they hope to continue to expand in the future, creating an empire of TIGERS venues to fund football operations.
The Wests Tigers financial position was regarded as being excellent with growth in income of about $0.4m last season to $8.52m. The NRL grant of $3.49m and Leagues Club support of $0.55m meant that total income for the Joint Venture was at $11.95m, an increase of $0.45m. Notable expenses were $1.6m on admin and management and $7.07m on football operations.
Several players from the BRET team were awarded with 100 Grade Games medals, including Lee Bennett, Gavin Cowen, Eloni Vunakece, Jared Farlow and David Gower.
The Balmain AGM is a very unique experience that stands apart from most other clubs. Whilst Season Ticket holders (Wests Tigers Members) experienced a great day yesterday at the invitation-only training session, becoming financial members of either Balmain or Wests provides fans with the intimate opportunity to ask questions directly to the Chairman, the CEO and the Head Coach.
WestsTigersForum.com urges users to both “Step Up” as a Wests Tigers season ticket holder as well as become a member of one of the two Football Clubs.
Wow ineresting read…
As a result of the new sponsorship agreement and renewed interest in the club, the > Wests Tigers jersey is now valued at $2m, putting the club in the top 3 of the NRL. > The Balmain/Wests heritage jerseys will each be worn twice this season
That is truely amazing…considering no finals in the last 4 years,
Bring on 2010!!! and beyond so it seems…
It was a great half hour.
I walked away from today’s meeting with a real sense of confidence from within our club. Sheens and Humphreys seems to work very well together, complimenting their own styles.
People are saying Folkes will be our best signing, but I have to disagree and go with Humphreys.
Very interesting read, thanks.Like centaur I’m a bit confused by what Sheens said about Robet Lui. If he’s good enough to start the season at half, surely we are hoping that he can play the whole season there. Is he thinking that when he can move Lote or someone else to fullback he’ll put Moltzen back at half and Lui goes back to NYC? If that’s the plan, i think we should start Moltz at half and use a ‘caretaker’ fullback.From what Sheens said about Brown, we might see him at fullback while Moltz goes to half, even in round one.
We still have a way to go to get to Souths reported revenue of just over $15 million. Would love to see their audited financial reports to see where all their revenue comes from.
Still, great result Tigers.
They’re bigger ground sluts than us! 10 games at Homebush and one in Perth. And they’re talking about 2 games over there next year.
Also they probably do well on merchandise given the average Souths fan throws out all their gear after a few losses and has to buy it all again when they win a few…