DateSeptember 6, 2014 - 10:00PM 8 reading now
Rugby League Columnist
Media executive Marina Go, one of three newly appointed non-executive directors, is likely to become chairwoman of a restructured Wests Tigers. Gold Coast’s Rebecca Frizelle is the only other woman holding a similar office. Females almost outnumber males on the Wests Tigers board, with three women on a shortlist of four identified to join the two directors from the Wests Ashfield licensed club, Simon Cook and Tony Andreacchio.
A meeting on Tuesday finally decided Go would be joined by the male on the short list, engineer Lucio Di Bartolomeo, as well as telecommunications expert Rosemary Sinclair.
The three non-aligned directors have already had a series of meetings and it is generally agreed that Go, soon to be general manager of Hearst Bauer Media, will assume the duties of chair, possibly at Sunday’s first official meeting.
The new board, which excludes any representatives from Balmain until a debt of $5 million is repaid, is lacking hands-on rugby league experience.
It is inevitable, therefore, that the board will want a chief executive and coach with a strong background in rugby league and an uncompromising leadership style.
Wests Tigers’ recent history of embarrassing losses and a fractured dressing room may block the incumbents, chief executive Grant Mayer and coach Michael Potter, from being re-contracted.
Contrary to continual reports, the old 10-director Wests Tigers board was not hopelessly divided. The outgoing Wests Tigers chairman, Mike Bailey, told former Magpie players at the club’s reunion last month that the unity in the board was the strongest it had been since the joint venture was formed 15 years ago. Bailey said the board could not be blamed for the highly publicised spat between commentator Gorden Tallis and Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah, which distracted the entire club. Bailey, a former TV weatherman, was ridiculed in the media for not being a rainmaker who could douse the dispute.
It has been speculated that the grace period Balmain have to repay their debt and acquire two seats on the Wests Tigers board ends on March 31, 2016, two years from when agreement was reached on a restructured board in exchange for NRL funding the shortfall. Wests repaid their share immediately but it is understood there will be a call at one of the first meetings of the new board for more operating funds, exacerbating the financial demands on Balmain. Balmain will hope the two-year clock begins ticking from that date, giving them more time to pass the hat around.
At the end of the two year period, if Balmain have forfeited their opportunity, Wests have first call on Balmain’s half share of the joint venture, acquiring two additional seats and thereby taking control with four votes to the non-aligned directors’ three. Wests, however, may prefer a business partner to purchase the debt and directorships.
The Magpie directors are bemused by claims made last month by Nick Di Girolamo, a former Wests Tigers deputy chairman and Balmain representative. Di Girolamo, who represented the Tigers in talks with the NRL and Wests’ Cook over the new board restructure, made claims which suggest he saved the joint venture from implosion. Now, with Balmain president Leslie Glenn bitterly protesting over the Tigers being steamrolled out of the joint venture, Di Girolamo’s boasts of great influence in the board restructure must be questioned, certainly in terms of the role he played representing Balmain.
Wests, however, are not dancing on Balmain’s grave and have surrendered any claim to have the club renamed the Magpies. They recognise the NRL club will retain the name Wests Tigers, certainly during the term of the new licence. A Wests Tigers board without Balmain representatives does signal a westward move away from Leichhardt to Campbelltown.
The Magpies have already reclaimed ownership and organisation of their junior representative teams and are running teams in the Sydney Shield and Ron Massey cups. Wests’ huge junior base at Campbelltown is run by a woman, Julie Luke, suggesting the Magpies won’t have a problem with being told what to do by a woman, even one whose name suggests she could be a Go-getter.