Sharks approve $300m development
Christian Nicolussi From: The Daily Telegraph February 22, 2011 12:00AM
SHARKS coach Shane Flanagan believes last night’s decision to support a $300 million residential and retail property development will not only guarantee Cronulla’s future, but will make it easier trying to entice the NRL’s big names to the Shire.
Flanagan and club chairman Damian Irvine revealed last night the club owed St George Bank $12 million and were seriously concerned the Sharks would go under had the historic vote been rejected.
But after more than Cronulla Sharks 600 members gave the development the green light - which will include a $2 million upfront payment - a relieved Flanagan said the focus would shift from survival to success.
Last night’s news capped off a good day with Kade Snowden rejoining the squad and the likelihood he will finally sign a deal that had been derailed by a last-minute bid from the Newcastle Knights.
“I was looking at the other side of things and if it didn’t go ahead, I don’t know how we would have attracted players to the club, and I wouldn’t have known how to motivate the group I’ve got at the moment because the future would not have looked positive,” Flanagan said. "Now we know the club will be here for a long time and hopefully I am too.
“Obviously there has been doubt in the rugby league world like, ‘why would you go to the Sharks?’, and ‘you don’t know if they’ll be there for much longer’. Now it gives us a bit of security, knowing that in the next couple of years we’ll be able to compete with sponsorship and marketing, facilities and other clubs.”
Several players, including skipper Paul Gallen and Paul Aiton, looked on with the latter admitting the players had been regularly kept up to speed with the developments.
Irvine, who addressed the members for 40 minutes in the club’s foyer, said the club had struggled with financial difficulty for 44 years.
"And a lot of people have asked, ‘why haven’t Cronulla had success?’, Irvine said.
"When you’re dealing with finely tuned athletes and talking about the long-term future, it’s not a conducive environment for excellence. The retention of players and staff and seeing a future here, people can take a backward seat and know a future is here.
"It’s always the wish of a board and chairman that your actions and the environment you can create helps players feel comfortable and at home.
“If this helps the players, we’re all for it.”
As for finalising the Snowden deal, Irvine said he would not lower the offer after the young prop was tempted to sign a bigger deal at the Knights.
“We never took the deal away, and Kade never knocked it back,” Irvine said. “It’s a bizarre story and one of interest, but we would never have questioned Kade’s loyalty or integrity. Our deal is there and for us to lower the deal now could be seen as not being loyal.”