The Cumberland Throw

The Tip Sheet – Episode 5: Bernie Gurr, Parramatta Eels CEO

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Episode 5 of The Tip Sheet is here and it is our biggest one yet! In this installment the Cumberland Throw sit down with Parramatta Eels’ CEO Bernie Gurr in our most in-depth and exhaustive interview to date. Gurr and TCT begin by diving into the administrative side of the Eels but a slew of broader discussion points are covered in this mammoth sit-down chat.

Major topics that Sixties, Mitch and Chris throw the way of the Parramatta CEO include:

  • Parramatta’s pursuit for a major sponsor.
  • How the club has approached creating the 2018 jersey.
  • Steps taken to improve the game day experience for fans in 2017.
  • NRL scheduling and the problems there-in that face Sydney NRL clubs.
  • Can the NRL learn anything from the American sports market?
  • The future of our Northern Territory deal and the idea of taking home games to rural centres or interstate.
  • What lies in the future for the Old Salesyard training facility.
  • Brad Arthur
  • Should the NRL implement greater concessions for juniors?
  • Did the Eels over-achieve in 2017 and the impact of injuries on our 2017 campaign.
  • How the proposed football operations cap will impact the Eels and the NRL.

 

Bernie Gurr answers with the insight and poise that you would expect and provides a gripping look into the multi-faceted role that is the Chief Executive Officer of the Parramatta Eels. Gurr’s look into the wider Sydney NRL landscape is a truly fascinating listen in and of itself and it serves to highlight both the weaknesses and strengths of the crowded Sydney NRL market while also touching on its rich history.

It might take a while to digest it all given it is essentially a double episode of The Tip Sheet but we hope you thoroughly enjoy this installment.

As always we are hugely appreciative of the time given up by our interviewee – doubly so this time around given how many questions Bernie Gurr fielded.

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Jack
Guest
Jack

Was a great way to start my Saturday morning!

mitch
Admin

He was very accommodating, both with his answers and his time.

We think it’s a great listen.

Trouser Eel
Guest
Trouser Eel

Great interview. As you’d expect with someone in such an important role, Bernie thinks deeply about where the club sits in the NRL and Western Sydney landscape. It was really telling to hear how he answered many of the questions. If I wasn’t already, I’d be ready to invest after hearing that interview.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, the TCT team have connections in high places. It seems Bernie must also have connections – to get 3 of the big 4 TCT guys out for the one interview!

mitch
Admin

Ha one of your best. We were actually the four strong – Poor Forty couldn’t speak due to illness.

We just thought it was great to get in a room with him, let alone him being so open and honest with our question, and for a full hour!

sixties
Admin

Thanks mate. Yes he got 4 of the 5 originals, but like everything with TCT it’s a team effort.
DK, Clint, Colmac, Nathan and our friends of the Throw help make the site tick. Who knows, we might need to expand our team soon!

Skippy Nonna
Guest
Skippy Nonna

Thanks TCT what a great interview, I think you blokes should be in the media , you definitely ask more pertinent questions.

mitch
Admin

We do have faces fit for radio.

Appreciate the compliment, Skippy.

mitch
Admin

I should add, huge credit to Sixties for culminating and organising all our questions, and for teeing up the interview in the first place. He’s a huge talent, that Sixties.

I often think that we’re very fortunate to have such a diverse spread of talent across the four blokes (you would have heard Chris’ voice, but Forty was the silent party in the corner) who sat down with Bernie yesterday.

sixties
Admin

Too kind mate. Cheers.

sixties
Admin

And our two suited up TCT boys brought some class. Should add that Forty’s technical work and post preambles have been tremendous in every Tip Sheet interview.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Insightful, informative, intelligent.

mitch
Admin

He certainly was all of those things.

Very generous with his time too

The Crow
Guest
The Crow

Earlier in the year I email Bernie about something and got a detailed response then next day (a Sunday morning!). He’s alright with me. He has been a great addition to the club and his legacy will be an extremely strong and successful Parramatta Eels. Great interview. Well done!

mitch
Admin

Ha he’s alright with us too mate. Glad you enjoyed the interview Crow.

sixties
Admin

Can I just second that Crow. From the moment he started at Parra, Bernie has made it his mission to give his time to the supporters. We’ve seen him everywhere from NRL matches, Junior rep trials and everything in between. It’s impressive stuff for a man whose workload extends far beyond just footy.

Joe Briffa
Guest
Joe Briffa

Again you all did an unbelievable job.No matter the game as you said Sixties we see him there and he spends time talking to us and answers almost all the questions asked of him and he never brushes us off. Keep up the good work boys and oh yeah come on forty get well soon, see you all soon boys.

mitch
Admin

Good on you Joe, hope you’re well mate.

Achilles' Eel
Guest
Achilles' Eel

I find most administrators tedious. However Bernie is a different kettle of fish. He is a visionary and such a pleasure to listen to. It’s a shame that the NRL hasn’t made better use of his expertise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that he is with us and steering the Good Ship Parramatta back on course; but a healthy governing body is of benefit to all – ourselves included.

mitch
Admin

It certainly wasn’t a bombshell, Daily Mail-esque scandalous interview, but I’ve always found Bernie a very easy listen (particularly for an administrator!), and it was no different yesterday. Helps that he oozes interest in the game and players, too.

Achilles' Eel
Guest
Achilles' Eel

I love those crazy, brash and charismatic bastards. They are very entertaining – provided they don’t seek to form cults. Yet the knowledgeable, too, are very entertaining and not just informative. They have helped to build the world – though some among them will obsess in running it to the ground. Our game can do with great thinkers. Perhaps Bernie can throw his hat into the ring.

mitch
Admin

As an Eels fan, I hope he doesn’t!

Michael
Guest
Michael

These interviews are fantastic…. loving them. Thanks Gents.

mitch
Admin

Completely agree – Forty and Sixties did an equally brilliant job with the football staff.

Credit too has got to go to each of the 5 blokes we’ve interviewed for giving up their time.

sixties
Admin

Might just keep them coming Michael!

Rowdy
Guest
Rowdy

I reckon they’ll be forming a queue to be interviewed Sixties!

Mitchy
Guest
Mitchy

Thanks fellas; just had a tune in this wkend and v pleasing and Bernie speaks with such clarity and purpose. You actually come away learning something if that sounds right unlike some in the nrl who give lip service answers. Like Achilles said i am glad he’s with us but gee he’d have the nrl in good shape too if he was in charge.

sixties
Admin

Thanks Mitchy. We are very privileged to be able to share this with fellow fans.

Walpy
Guest
Walpy

BRILLIANT!!! Where do you go from here 🙂

mitch
Admin

Todd Greenberg?

Mitchy
Guest
Mitchy

Please not TG; he wont give a straight answer.

Matt
Guest
Matt

👏👏👏👏
Great interview guys.
Very refreshing hearing from such a great leader..
Did He happen to say if we are close to signing a major sponsor?

mitch
Admin

Thanks Matt. He was pretty honest about it all – and mentioned there are a few options the club is considering at the moment.

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

I enjoyed the previous 4 interviews but this one topped it for me. His subject knowledge and understanding of what drives the business is outstanding. He is very tactical in his answers and very rarely does he not answer the question directly. The other thing that I like is that he couches his answers with background to enable us to understand where the answer is coming from.

The TCT team did a great job with the questions and format. Hope there will be more of this to come. As always, keep up the good work

mitch
Admin

Thanks mate – like I’ve said above, it was a pleasure to sit down with him. Very honest and generous with his time.

We’ll see what interview we’re able to line up next.

Pou
Guest
Pou

Well he’s no Scott Seward, but he’ll do. Thanks once again guys.

mitch
Admin

controversial.

Rowdy
Guest
Rowdy

Great interview TCT. Gee, imagine what Steve Sharp could have learned if he’d had the benefit of a CEO like Bernie to help him unravel the commercial nightmare he inherited? All jokes aside, I am a great believer in divine intervention and fortuitous timing. Both of the above gentlemen have played important roles in getting us out of the position we were in and conversely into the position we are now in. A point Bernie has made often is that it will take some time to manage our way into the manifestation of the goals we have set to become… Read more »

sixties
Admin

No matter the pain, the controversy, even the damage – all roads have led us to here and now. And it’s now a positive future.

Parramatta Tragic
Guest
Parramatta Tragic

A great interview. Any news agency would be proud to produce an interview of that quality. No BS about Bernie. He has a clear idea of where we have been and where we are going. The club is in excellent hands with the current administration and coaching staff. Bernie seems to have all the priorities in the right order going forward and conducts himself in a quiet but confident manner, like all great leaders. I sniff a wonderful next ten years (and beyond) coming up for Parramatta and I like his ideas on the new jersey being linked to our… Read more »

sixties
Admin

Agree mate, and thanks for the kind words. The thing about Bernie is that he has the business/corporate acumen coupled with the footy knowledge and passion. Perfect combination for a club’s CEO.

mitch
Admin

Thanks mate. This feels like this should sound more ridiculous, but I wouldn’t trade him or BA for any other person in their respective positions, anywhere in the world.

Mitchy
Guest
Mitchy

Well said PT; I’m a traditionalist like Bernie and to me the style of gurnsey would be superb. Others who don’t like it well its all about opinions.
When Bernie spoke he rattled off so well the items involved in the club and his knowledge and business smarts shines through more than many….makes you v happy considering where we were in the past and I mean going back to the era before Spags etc……

Adam
Guest

Congratulations TCT on a great interview. Bernie’s insight and wisdom, coupled with his rugby league knowledge is plainly evident. Im so glad he’s at the helm.

Boys, thank you for the interviews this year. Your passion for this great club makes me proud to be an Eel. Well done boys for everything.

sixties
Admin

Thanks Adam. More to come.

mitch
Admin

thanks mate – appreciate your support.

Clint
Member

Gents, what a fantastic interview! Congrats on organising and putting this together! Moreover, what tremendous insight this gives to the wider Eels supporter base about the inner workings of our club and the man at the helm. I think the biggest point Bernie shared was on what he believes to be our core business (and the arms that play the biggest role in achieving the outcomes of our core business). The fact that he was able to communicate this so clearly and go into depth on why he believes this is the case, is evident of a man who not… Read more »

mitch
Admin

ha, you should have just posted this comment as an article mate.

you’re a legend, thanks for your thougths.

sixties
Admin

I think what we just had there was a bit of a preview of something Clint is working on. Many thanks for the comprehensive reply and analysis of the communication that Bernie has provided for Eels fans.

Macca
Guest
Macca

Thanks guys, great interview. I learnt more from that than 100 hours on rugby league rumour forums.

mitch
Admin

ha, there’s still a place in my heart for rumour forums. he was great to interview, told us beforehand that nothing was off limits.

sixties
Admin

Hi Macca, it’s because we don’t compete with forums that a site like TCT can share the Eels social media market with forums. Really appreciate your support.

Trapped in the 1970's
Guest
Trapped in the 1970's

Thanks lads for your efforts in putting that interview together, it was pure quality. How reassuring it is to have such an articulate well credentialed businessman at the helm such as Bernie. It goes without saying that the club has to be financially secure to be successful on the field and vice versa for that matter and to achieve both is no easy feat, but the way he explains where the club is at and the path ahead which is being approached in an ordered and professional manner was outstanding. It was interesting to note how many times he mentioned… Read more »

mitch
Admin

thanks for your support mate. there’s been plenty of hard work put in to get it to the point where the CEO felt comfortable enough to sit down with us.

it was a terrific experience, and we’re really happy with the product.

still, there’s plenty more to come.

sixties
Admin

Cheers Trapped. I’m very pleased with Bernie’s embrace of what the club needs to do to be relevant in the modern sports/entertainment market, as well as the importance he places on honouring our football traditions.

Kramerica
Guest
Kramerica

Great interview – I don’t really know what to say because you fellas covered absolutely everything. The 50 odd minutes felt like 10 !!
Thanks for all your efforts lads – it’s really appreciated by the fans.
Feel The Bern 🙂

mitch
Admin

Feel it.

sixties
Admin

Thanks for taking the time to comment K Man. As Mitch said in an earlier response, we were free to question Bernie on any topic. Transparency!

Manginina
Guest
Manginina

I have learned so much from these interviews conducted by TCT – I really knew so very

little of the workings of the club – and I have supported the Eels for decades. The Club

is in very competent and safe hands. Wow, how good is Bernie!

Thanks TCT, I am also stoked with you all.

sixties
Admin

Thanks mate. Getting comments from fans like yourself, saying that the interviews are informative, really validates what we’re trying to do. We certainly are in good hands at many levels of the club.

mitch
Admin

that’s good to hear mate. thanks for your support.

Chris
Admin

Bernie came prepared with pages of notes. He takes every opportunity to communicate with the fans very seriously. I don’t think we have ever been in better hands right across leadership positions at the Eels.

Personally, what I like the most is how Bernie and BA are instilling the same leadership qualities and football brand all the way from the 14’s development squad to the first team. Love that every player in the system knows how we play and what is required.

Thanks everyone for your comments and support of TCT.

Always a eel
Guest
Always a eel

Grents well done , as you said mitch you both have great heads for radio ,kepp up the great work

sixties
Admin

Thanks mate. And there I was praising my mirror!

mitch
Admin

ha, thanks mate.

Sam
Guest
Sam

I have to say thanks again guys, that was an incredibly informative and encouraging interview. I appreciate BG seems to have good knowledge of both macro & micro economics in the field of sports and entertainment. Pretty impressive sounding guy. 2 things troubled me; market saturation for sponsorship – we “remain confident” but not concrete yet. The other; BG clearly knows there’s TPA rorts going on around the nrl but can’t do anything about it. I wish every ceo was as honest. Whos the TCT guy with the high youngish voice? Sounded like a young man amongst men! No offence!… Read more »

sixties
Admin

Thanks Sam – Well it’s not this old bloke that has a young sounding voice.
The impressive thing about the club, and those coaching and administering, is the honesty.
I look at the sponsorship this way.
Parra has some market damage from 2016, but in the meantime it’s re-established it’s reputation on the field, whilst strengthening its role as a good community member. With the growth in Western Sydney, and Parra’s depth of support, I have confidence that a major sponsor will be found.

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

Sixties your voice reminds me of a fellow I used to work with. The 2 voices are so alike it spooks me when I hear your voice.

He is a Victorian and an Essendon supporter so unlikely you are related

parrathruandthru
Guest
parrathruandthru

I had a school mate who was an Easts supporter and if Parra wasn’t playing I would quite often go to the game with him so I saw Bernie play quite a few times. He apparently played 3 1st grade games. Here’s game 2

sixties
Admin

Great find mate. Much appreciated.

mitch
Admin

this is outstanding, even if it didn’t include Bernie. a huge thank you to parrathruandthru

Gianni
Guest
Gianni

Absolutely fantastic Sterlo was on the money that’s for sure.Never have I seen our great club in better hands we will go from strength to strength over the next few years hopefully culminating in a premiership.
A big Thankyou for all your work to all the Cumberland Throw guys you have taken it to a whole new level and I’m sure this is much appreciated by all the true Eels fans.

mitch
Admin

Appreciated mate.

sixties
Admin

Thanks for adding your reply Gianni. Much appreciated.

Sam
Guest
Sam

Not at all a jibe or a negative thought – just had the idea you guys were abit older is all.

Great interview. Thank you all very much.

mitch
Admin

Hey mate – probably me. I’m in my early 30s. Although Forty didn’t speak he’s the youngest of the four.

sixties
Admin

We don’t need to explore who the senior citizen is!

Stacey
Guest
Stacey

Great interview boys. Bernie Gurr was born to run our club and I can finally say we are in safe hands fir our future

mitch
Admin

thanks Stacey – team effort, of course. really appreciate you listening.

sixties
Admin

Thanks Stacey. Appreciate the feedback.

Freddy Chalhoub
Guest
Freddy Chalhoub

Amazing interview. Honestly it blew me away to learn so much about not only the club but the game as a whole right from the bottom up. You would never get some much insight and knowledge of the game from Todd Greenberg nor would you get the honesty that Bernie Gurr demonstrated. Good to see the club is in the hands of a man of Bernie’s stature. I’m almost certain that the club is heading in the direction of a premiership. I’ve always been a believer, and I’ve been an nrl fan for as long as I can remember and… Read more »

sixties
Admin

Thanks for taking the time to comment Freddy. Bernie is an impressive bloke, and importantly, the decision makers at the club are all on the same page.
I too have great confidence about our future.

mitch
Admin

agreed Freddy. next few years should be good fun.

JonBoy
Guest
JonBoy

Well done boys… I note you are being quoted on NRL.com today! Even the big guns are turning to TCT for their stories now!

sixties
Admin

Thanks mate. We have a number of quality journos that follow our site and Chris Kennedy has done an outstanding job in summarising the topics covered in our interview.

mitch
Admin

a couple of really good journos have been very good to us. as Sixties said, Chris Kennedy is very good bloke (and well worth a read anytime he writes something)

Jase Worthy
Guest
Jase Worthy

I’ve supported The Eels for about 37 years yet only came across this site tonight. Great site. Thank you. What a great interview. I love listening to Burnie. He’s very intelligent, knows his business well and has been great for Parra. I love the changes and direction our club have taken. It feels great to have thst genuine belief and spark back. It’s great to be in the position we are after a lot of hard work. There have been a lot of tough times. It’s been hard being an Eels fan at times but a true fan never gives… Read more »

mitch
Admin

Welcome to TCT mate – great to have you. If you don’t mind my asking, how did you find us?

Jase Worthy
Guest
Jase Worthy

I should add that BA is the best coach we have had in many years. Hope he never leaves. Great for our club.

sixties
Admin

Welcome to TCT Jase. Please take some time to catch up with our posts and especially our Tip Sheet series.
Like you, we are massive fans of BA and Bernie is an ultra-impressive administrator.
It’s has been tough at times over the last 30 years, but the future is bright.
Thanks for taking the time to comment Jase. Make sure you tell your Eels mates to have a listen.

Jase Worthy
Guest
Jase Worthy

Cheers Sixties. Look fwd to more great posts

Josh
Guest
Josh

Great interview guys, thanks for posting this.

Kinda wish you asked Bernie about Ronnie Palmer. I find it curious that he’s left. He’s one of the best trainers in the game, big shame he’s gone.

Grunta
Guest
Grunta

Hi Josh, I’m only guessing here but I reckon we may have learnt his strategies and tactics re training, self improvement and motivation etc and have let him go? No doubt that as a club we would have gotten a lot out of Ronnie’s tenure with us and our trainers can continue that on in the future? I’m also guessing that Ronnie being in the upper echelon or even at the top of his game, that he wouldn’t be on chicken feed so to speak when it comes to price? As I stated, I’m only guessing mate and I’m hoping… Read more »

sixties
Admin

Thanks for replying Josh and Grunta. You will have noticed that Lachlan Wilmot has taken on the senior role of Head of Athletic Performance. That job was advertised some time back. Moving forward, I would imagine that there will be some multi-tasking across roles for a couple of people as this new role would surely involve both overseeing the program in addition to hands on responsibilities. I think there is a link between Cleary and Palmer. Hence the move. To be fair, there were many more questions that we had for Bernie but we culled those before arriving at our… Read more »