Justin Pascoe lifts lid on Wests Tigers issues
MAY 3, 201710:33PM
WESTS TIGERS Chief Executive Justin Pascoe says the club did everything in its power to keep the club’s quartet of stars. Captain Aaron Woods (Canterbury), James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters) and Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels) are all departing, and only halfback Luke Brooks is committing to the club from next season. But Pascoe has cleared the air, saying he must carry the club forward and build for the future, instead of focusing on the reasons why the club’s stars chose to walk away. “We’ve done everything over the past five months that we believe are in the best interests of the club and afford them an opportunity to stay at the club,” Pascoe told Fox Sports League Life program. “They’ve made some really tough decisions, we respect those decisions, it’s not in the best interests of our organisation the way the outcome has gone, but that’s what it is — as CEO I can’t cry in the corner not having a favourable outcome.”
While Pascoe took responsibility for the three marquee stars choosing to sign elsewhere from 2018, he did outline factors that played against the Wests Tigers. He revealed the club had moved to resign James Tedesco last season, only to be rebuked, given issues the fullback was having with his former manager. Brooks and Moses were also approached mid-2016 to extend their stays, but both chose to take one-year options in their deal, ensuring all four big names came off contract at the same time.
Club captain Aaron Woods was also approached with a firm contract offer in December 2016, but ultimately didn’t resign. “It was really that perfect storm where these four players have all come off contract in the prime of their career, heavily targeted by other clubs,” Pascoe said. “I was disappointed with the outcome and I think the negotiation took too long. I put my hand up for that, because I was the lead negotiator in that process. “In an environment where you’re trying to secure four quality juniors — that was paramount to this football club. Hand on heart we couldn’t do any more to retain these guys.
“We offered up really long-term contracts, we’ve got a really clear vision where the organisation is going, we’re building a really competitive roster. “We’re in a position now where we’ve brought it to a conclusion. I think the club needed some clarity and certainty around that — we’re in a position to look to the future.”
The club has been riddled with instability at board level since becoming a joint venture in 1999, somewhat consumed by a power struggle between Balmain and Western Suburbs factions.
But with a new board assembled late last year, Pascoe says the club is moving forward united and stronger than ever. “There have been challenges to this club through the joint venture,” Pascoe said.
“The noise outside is not reflective of how we feel inside. The board has been in place since last year, ownership is now settled, and we’ve got a $57 million development that we’re heading towards.
“The board is working in absolute unity for the good of the Wests Tigers and the decisions that we’ve had to make are really about trying to bring an organisation that has had some instability, to a point of stability.” The headlines and results may not have been positive of late on-field, but away from the paddock the Wests Tigers are making serious gains.Revenue is on the increase, as the club continues to grow its membership base and commercial partnerships.
“We’ve got the largest membership the club’s ever enjoyed. For the very first time we have our apparel fully supported from a corporate perspective,” Pascoe explained. “Corporates out there don’t go out and spend $1 million or $300,000 with an organisation that they don’t feel comfortable with or feel like they don’t have a vision.”The silver lining throughout the mess is the fact the club is now in a position to secure talent and for the first time in several seasons does not have money going to players wearing an opposition jersey. Josh Reynolds and Ben Matulino have already committed to the club long-term and Pascoe knows he must continue to attract high-profile talent to ensure the club is competitive on the field. The goal is to make the club a force both on-field and off. “We’re through the biggest challenges. We’ve got stable ownership; we’ve got a really good board. “All the commercial activities are generating higher than they’ve ever been before. Our biggest challenge now is making sure we go out in the marketplace and get a roster that will make us compete and be sustainable — and I think we’re doing that.”