The Cumberland Throw

The Football Review – Thoughts and Analysis

After a long and exhaustive process, the findings from the Parramatta Eels Football review have finally been released. Like all Eels supporters, The Cumberland Throw have been speculating about what we could expect, with Clint devoting two extensive posts to this topic.

We (Sixties and Mitch) were fortunate enough to sit down with CEO Bernie Gurr yesterday afternoon to discuss the review and took the following central points away from both that meeting and the media release that followed:

The Good News
The To Do List
  • Accountability
  • Refocusing on Development
  • Addressing need for Leadership
  • Restructuring of Recruitment
  • The ISP Eels in 2020
  • Establishing a Centre of Excellence
  • Improving Old Saleyards facilities in short term
  • Improve on field results

Whilst there were no surprises in aspects of the Eels operation requiring attention, there are notable directions that the club will take moving forward.

Rather than simply re-wording the findings released to Members and media, we’ve decided to try offer some sort of analysis of what we consider to be the significant improvements to result from recommendations endorsed by the Board.


The appointment of a General Manager of Football and a Recruitment Manager are core components of a revised staffing structure.

For too long, the supervision of aspects of the Eels operation has been spread across too many hands. There will always be some element of multi-tasking in any workplace, but there was simply too much of it at Parramatta.

Having managers who will seek accountability from staff, and in turn be accountable themselves, means that key personnel can focus on the core responsibilities of their roles. Ultimately this means staff, from Bernie Gurr down, will have a better opportunity to excel.

Definition of the Parramatta Identity

This is important. What type of club are the Eels? Ask that question of staff, players, commercial partners and supporters and you’d get no unified response. It was beyond time for that to change.

After reading the emails, articles, and more so after speaking to a number of key Eels personnel yesterday, Parra’s future identity became very apparent – Parramatta is a Development Club.

Remember the name Dylan Brown.

This is not a unique identity. There are other development clubs in the NRL – those who have the resources and the associated philosophy to develop their own NRL players.

Whether players are true locals or brought in from elsewhere into the Eels development pathways, the goal must be to produce players who identify as Parra and are aspirational towards an NRL career with the club.

Having the Blue and Gold jersey from development squads to NRL is integral to this. The confusion of the Wenty partnership will end in 2020. This has been championed on TCT and it ticks a multitude of boxes – from identity, to player development to complete roster control.

The appointment of a dedicated Junior Coaching Coordinator re-affirms the commitment to develop NRL players. The Eels already have a good Junior Rep program; we had four youngsters debuting this past season; but the next step is ensuring that this produces even more first grade players in the long term.

Some might argue that it’s obvious that juniors are our strength, but recent lean years tell us that times are only just starting to change. The club’s roster currently sits on 44% with a link to Eels development systems. That percentage will require an increase to around 80% to fulfil that identity.

Addressing Leadership

How many leaders do the club have in the playing group? Ignore whether a player has a C next to his name or not. If the current captains weren’t taking the field, who would lead the team?

Any NRL club should have a core group of players, not one or two, who can steady the ship, focus the team, urge team mates on, and drive player accountability.

You can look to recruit leaders. But if the Eels are serious about being a ‘Development Club’ then it follows that they need to develop leadership from within.

Investing in programs designed to teach leadership skills is a valuable step forward. It’s our understanding that there’s already been some exposure to this recently, but a commitment to long term investment will be very beneficial.


It should not be underestimated how important the new stadium is for the Parramatta Eels. The appeal to the current playing group, the impact it will (hopefully) have in close games, the gift it is for our fans and the carrot it could be for recruitment are all significant boosts for our football department.
On the other side of the coin, is Old Saleyards. Although infinitely better than what we once had (nothing), and a brilliant surface, we are still miles behind the majority of the NRL competition regarding change rooms, ammenities and the like. For as much as the Eels will be in the 21st century on match days, they’ll be back in the 20th when they train.

Old Saleyards is a bit like a lake cabin, but without the lake.

The Cumberland Throw welcomes the plan to have a Centre of Excellence. With this said, the thoughts of a five year process to get there isn’t music to our ears, so any possibility of fast tracking needs to be explored. Whether that is in Parramatta, or for example in the Hills District (the geographical centre of the Eels supporter base) I suspect would make little difference to the fans, players or coaching staff. The Tigers train in Concord, Manly train in Narrabeen, surely the Eels CoE could be in the Hills, or Northmead if a suitable location can’t be found in Parramatta.

In the meantime, the endorsed provision of improved facilities at Saleyards is a necessity. As any improvements to the training centre will require Parramatta Council approval, the short term and long term destiny of the Eels home base will be in the hands of local government.

Funding and Future Proofing

Whether or not supporters are encouraged by the recommendations endorsed by the Eels Board, the fact remains that the review will provide the club with the framework for a strategic plan moving forward.

We’ve been informed that the review benchmarked the Eels against best practised, high performing sporting environments. Ultimately it means that a greater financial commitment has been made to ensure that management, coaching resources, facilities, pathways and programs will be in place to ensure long term success.

At this point, the focus has been on adding staff rather than terminating current employees. Whether there will personnel changes as new structures and processes take effect remains to be seen. Given that 162 interviews were conducted, and staff were encouraged to speak freely, you’d then assume that they’ve had some say in what they needed to be successful in their roles and what they needed from the people they work with. It’s definitely a case of no more excuses.

Final Say

Back in 2016, the Parramatta Eels were a basket case. We had no Board, no CEO, the NSW Government appointed an administrator to the Leagues Club, we lost contracted players, lost sponsors, and lost premiership points. The only place that this dysfunction didn’t manifest was in the performance of the football team. It was a miracle that Brad Arthur was able to insulate the team against the off-field storms.

But the efforts of the Eels across 2016 and 2017 only served to paper over the operational shortcomings that would always hinder long term success. We assumed, the club assumed, that the team would continue to produce on the field, regardless of what happened. We were wrong.

This review was not so much about finding answers for a bad season. It had to look at a bigger picture. Management, staff, players, supporters have all probably nodded as they’ve read the recommendations and concluded that it hasn’t been rocket science.

However, what the review has achieved is the formulation of a strategic plan, in black and white for all to see, of what the club needs to do moving forward. Most importantly, it has achieved the endorsement from the Board for the additional financial investment.

At the end of the day, the Parramatta Eels are a football club. From the Leagues Club to the front office to the coaching staff to the players to the fans. Our sole focus always should be success on the field and how to win premierships.

Regardless of the review, our mission has not changed.


Go you Eels (Forever!),

Sixties and Mitch

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82 thoughts on “The Football Review – Thoughts and Analysis

  1. The Captain

    Thanks for the write-up fellas.

    Any idea as to whether the review in full will be released to members? Was a little disappointed to see that only the recommendations were released.

    It’s definitely encouraging to see what was in there but in the interests of transparency it’d be great to see the full review to put the recommendations in context.

    Surely visibility is our best friend if we want to improve.

      1. The Captain

        Oh yeah I’d expect it’d redacted, there’s no doubt some stuff that could be commercially sensitive. I just think it’d be a great move. Information radiation hasn’t been a strong suit of ours and given how public it was made that this review was happening there’s been a substantial amount of interest created. I for one would be extremely interested to see what was looked at and the findings that led to the recommendations.

        My biggest question given the recommendations seem to be largely as expected by all of us, is:

        If the answers were fairly obvious, how did the current leadership miss them? Why did they need a review to recommend essentially what had been called out on this and many other public forums?

        If the findings were released those questions may be easily answered. I’m quite sure the analysis would’ve been much deeper than fan armchair analysis. But it does beg the question, if the fans essentially predicted the recommendations before they were made (and they were right on basically all accounts) what did we learn from the review?

        For the record, I’m stoked with all of the recommendations. I am concerned that it took a review to capture them and I think the release of the report in full would give us an understanding as to why these answers were beyond the reach of our leadership team pre-review.

        1. mitch

          I think there’s value in the review outside of confirming what we know, in that to some extent it prioritised the importance of what we know, and crystallised the value in throwing more money at development and recruitment. It also ruled out a number of things that people were incorrectly claiming (BA has lost the dressing room, our facilities are fine, BA is fine without a HoF, the current recruitment/development should is working etc).

          It also really gives the Football Department something to hang their hat on when requesting funding (well, in essence, now they dont have to). Now they don’t need to convince anyone, it’s in black and white, from an independent source. If I was BA, I’d be stoked with the results.

          1. colin hussey

            Mitch, I believe this is like the release valve on a pressure cooker for BA and is exactly what he needs for the upcoming season, for him the big need is for more assistants to target specific areas the team needs.

            That is very much highlighted I believe in this review overview handout. There would much more in addendum pages that would highlight things in a more specific and likely critical manner as to the need for change and changes tor ring in for the future, not just one single season.

            The ISP change is huge, and congrats to all here on TCT that have pushed this agenda for some time and all of those who have supported the push. Showing also is a new coach for Wenty who has first grade experience in playing and coaching.

            The appointment of O’Neil will be watched but in him we have someone who captained a premiership winning team and even in that area can instil a winning desire and new culture in the team and club overall.

  2. Big Derek

    There is little doubt that significant importance should be attached to the review, and the steps needed to take the club to its appropriate level need to be implemented immediately. The HOF will need to focus on the ability of current assistant coaches as well as future appointments.

    Having said that , there is a here and now that has to,be addressed, recruitment has been little short of poor (or diabolical), and we are given little indication that will improve for 2019. Looking at the roster, there should not be pressure on the salary cap and if there is that indicates a lack of planning and overblown payments made to players at the club.

    There are still significant holes that need to be fills for 2019, and the supporter base is never given an idea that we have room or are in the process of looking at players.

    Understandably, the review did not address the near term, but has provided a blueprint for future success. No doubt many of the conclusions were obvious, and the board is to be congratulated for bringing in an experienced team to validate what was needed and the steps to steer the club in the right direction.

    The CEO now needs to be clearly out and about in the media spotlight to sell what is going on, and project a bright future for the club as an attractive place for players, sponsors and supporters.

    1. Roy fishers hairdresser

      Given most of the overblown payments are a historical legacy from seward / sharp /boulos im willing to be a bit patient till end of 2019 when will finally be free of past encumbrances, im sure we will be notified of player purchases when and if suitable ,until then its no busniess of mine or any other supporters based on the delicacy’s of negotiations, 5 new signings plus 5 juniors elevated into top squad on the back of a cleanout is a fair start for me .

  3. Tyler

    Great post Sixties and Mitch!

    I’ve pretty happy with all the recommendations that came out of the review, particularly having our own ISP team in 2020 and the other recommendations relating to bettering the support of the development aspects of our club.

    I share the same thoughts as you both in regards to the centre of excellence. While it’s great the intent is there, five years is an awfully long time. Hopefully the short term improvements to our facilities will be sufficient in the interim, but I would also like to see a more in-depth strategic plan for how this could be most efficiently and effectively implemented. In doing so, they may discover a way this can be fast tracked.

    While this year may have been painful from a performance standpoint, it may have been the reality check the club needed in order to identify and address key organisational areas that as you both insightfully pointed out, may have been disguised by the short term success we had in 2016/17.

    Regardless, I am optimistic for 2019 and can’t wait to watch games from our new home stadium!

  4. Milo

    Cheers Mitch (the 2nd ) and Sixties, to me the review is something that as mentioned is to be set in concrete and a platform for the future.
    Something we could have seen before but not had in concrete.
    ISP – yes v good. About time too.
    COE – hope they get on the front foot like Steve Waugh used to and get this started v soon. 5 yrs is too long imo and i know its a plan, but it needs to be sorted asap to help with the current 14’s etc coming through and also the lure of purchases in the future.
    We only hope or i do that the current roster is sorted asap as there seems to be some media with names out there and i just hope this doesn’t upset the pre-season.
    I know its the silly time of yr but we need some stability and good direction.
    I also noted the culture aspect is being expanded, and only hope we have a no fools policy for the future. While we have given some players 2nd chances, some have let us down.

    1. mitch

      Culture (not talent) evidently needs to be a greater consideration. Despite some thinking the market is dry, I suspect they’ll be a few moves once the HoF arrives. With that said, that’s just a guess based on what the NRL market will do. Whatever path we take, it would make for a more interesting offseason, particularly on the back of coming last.
      As always, thanks for reading Milo.

      1. Milo

        Loved it mate; and its needed for this off season and v wet October day up here.
        I think I’m talking for many here, we just want the club on the front foot and a leader for league in NSW, as with our junior base along with the Pennies, we should be. We need good vision and the best staff to get us there.
        I hope Bernie offered you guys a good coffee or cup of tea yesterday.

  5. Shelley

    Like many I am happy with the recommendations. It gives no place to hide and I like that, some very clear and measurable directions have been set and now everyone can rightly be judged on their ability to fulfill the role they have primary responsibility for. I will admit when reading some of the recommendations and appointments, such as head of recruitment and a junior coordinator for coaching, I was very surprised and somewhat disappointed that we did not have these positions in place already, especially when we had no GM of football. But we did not for whatever reason so all we can do is get on with it and move forward. I am happy that BA and the coaches can do what they are paid to do and judged on- focus on coaching. I believe BA is a good coach and have faith he will turn this team around.

    It looks all good on paper but for the club to move forward next year and that includes regaining the connection between the fans and club/ players, which is simply imperative for our club, we need to get stability with the playing roster ASAP. Unnecessary uncertainty, unwanted or disgruntled players is not what we need to start the pre season. I trust those in charge know what they are doing, by keeping signings or re-signings ( such as Terepo, I think that is what he said in an interview towards the end of the season) and releases quiet. I am getting sick of reading each day all the rumours about players leaving, visiting other clubs or seeing on players social media accounts that they are leaving or staying. It should come directly from the club to the fans.

    I know the club can not control what the media writes and what managers tell the journalists but by the club saying nothing at all about those players who have been re-signed or told to go, all they are doing is leaving a vacuum that the papers will happily fill. I would hope the club was waiting for the review to be finished, made public and the GM of Football to be announced before announcing what our playing squad will actually be, leaving of course a few spaces vacant just in case a player becomes available. If the squad for the upcoming season is not settled quickly the fans will keep talking negative things and the media will hound the players and gladly write the stories. It will not help the club move forward at all and the pre season will not be the fresh start we desperately need.

    1. colin hussey

      Good and as usual insightful and reasoned post by Mitch and Sixties, also good to see what is primarily a good result even though the pudding needs to have some proofing in it.

      Shelley I’m with you on the signings and mostly goings, yet for some reason I get the feeling that there will be another couple of good ones to be made, or maybe just hopeful in a big way on that. We need a couple of solid forwards to add to the pack, but that aside, I am wanting to see much of what is said in Bernies release come to fruition, some of it may well come to the for ready for season 2019, and be progressively advanced from there on.

      Many are blaming Gurr for a lot of this but, and being honest he had to work under Maxes directives which was to save money, owing to the problems with the PLC. The other aspect is how many forget that Gurr was a success at the chooks as CEO before moving to the U.S, 20 years over there in general sports and the NFL set up. He may have kept up a bit regarding the changes in the NRL but being out for that long and coming back, he would have had a lot of learning to do in his first year. No matter how good he was before he still had to relearn a lot.

      He made mistakes, which would be little doubt of, but so too Max, and that would also put them on par with other RL execs as well.

      We the eels supporters need to be just that in a big way going forward, as that is the direction that is being not just pointed to but heading, success, yes! but that will be a progress over time, maybe short or mid but not a long time though.

  6. Michael Formosa

    I’m happy with the recommendations but I can’t help but feel any experienced CEO like Gurr is should have easily picked up on most of these on his own without spending lots of money on this review. I heard Sharp mention a Centre of Excellent many years ago. I can’t believe how much money this club throws away that could be put into upgrading the gym and facilities. Anyway enough crying over the mistakes of yesterday hopefully someone might finally do something!! Change something for the better.

    1. mitch

      Yeah agreed – I’m trying to worry less about the mistakes of yesteryear (there’s plenty) and focus on the future. Hopefully this review makes said future much more palatable.

  7. evets

    Look happy with the review but what troubles me and I dare say a lot of people is the fact that they declared Brad Arthur is safe BEFORE the review kicked off.
    The review has endorsed this and the direction is to surround BA with everything but is BA the best coach going forward?? I just can’t understand how BA has escaped any criticism for his performance this year?? Even Brads most ardent supporter woukd have to concede that he had a terrible year. If it were Jack Gibson or Bennett I would say.. OK but what has Brad Arthur really achieved that allows him all this support???
    I’m just dumbfounded.
    It’s as if the accountability doesn’t extend to the coaching staff and the Eels just accept mediocrity.

    1. mitch

      I suspect accountability comes in 2019 when his contract runs out. Whether it was declared before is now moot, as the independent review (note that word independent) deemed him not the issue regardless. The player interviews confirmed the players have faith in BA. With all that said, without favourable results in 2019, I suspect he knows as well as anybody he’ll be very hard pressed getting an extension.

    2. Hamsammich

      Whereabouts has BA escaped any criticism? That seems to be the go-to phrase for people that wanted him sacked. If you want to find criticisms of BA, they aren’t hard to find.

      Maybe the board knew that the systems weren’t in place around Arthur to help him and the team succeed?

      1. evets

        I’m quite happy about him staying put if that’s what the review has found but my point was that the review seems to have identified the need to wrap resources around Brad. They were quite clear BEFORE the review that he was safe so any conversation regarding his performance from the players or others was moot. Yes.. Fans have been vocal regarding his performance but they are the fans – the media and club have been very very generous.
        I and all fans hope that BA can smash it next year but there has to be accountability. Let’s hope if we come to that falk in the road we are professional enough to move forward.

        1. Anonymous

          I recall an article that BA asked for certain roles to be filled that were not.
          Maybe that is why he has been given a little latitude. 2019!

        2. colin hussey

          evets, the reviews report is really the skin of what was found out, and much is interlaid in regarding the simple fact that BA had no meat inside the skin or akin to having a cocktail frankfurt as against even a thick sausage as support services around him.

          Sure the review findings could have found a lot of things that had they been put out in the public arena, but would that revealing have made any real difference, as in the end what happened to the eels in 2018 happened and they have learnt by it. If I read and hear correctly the players were supportive of BA and not the opposite, likely some may have had some issues but it confirms what I have said all year, when the players run on the field they are the ones who make the decisions, drop the ball, miss tackles and the like not the coach.

          Had any real attack against BA happened then we would have lost more than just a coach, I believe it would have really dented the club more than anything else. This reviews finding and what has been made public is the bones of this season and now needs to be filled out over the off season and into 2019.

          BA is safe owing to the overall support he has on and off the field even though he had no real backup support in the back office and his own support people. Many like to quote Jack Gibsons saying about the front office, and that is/was true, still applies and even when the front office may seem ok, if the back office is empty, well so it shows more as the club as a whole has found. It now takes supporters to realise that and get behind the club, review and the outcomes.

          1. sixties

            Similar reviews have never taken the witch hunt approach. It was always going to examine whether the structures exist to achieve long term success – and it has to mean having club structures that will assist any coach not just BA. If the review has found that we need to provide better staffing, resources, procedures etc then that is a better answer to the long term drought, not “sack the coach”

        3. Rowdy

          One of the outcomes of the review was to create stability. What a wonderful opportunity to to do that at no cost to the organisation by declaring a position that is NOT vacant as STILL not vacant prior to a review that may take some time to conduct and conclude. It may even enhance our ability to recruit new players to the club who we may be looking at or even negotiating with at this very point in time?

          1. sixties

            Rowdy, what a great take. Little doubt that there are supporters who wanted blood. There was an element of identifying strengths then looking at what was missing. I reckon that’s a logical approach. People are passionate about their footy. It’s a good thing that it was an independent review so it could make logical rather than emotional decisions.

    3. Rowdy

      What would you expect the senior executive management of a business under administration to say? “Oh, as a result of the need for a comprehensive review, we’re going to create a little bit more uncertainty to add to the dysfunction we inherited. We are going to rissole the coach even though BA has only one year left on his current contract” We just thought it prudent to show we can also be less than honorable regarding the contractual status of the most important individual in the footy operation”!

  8. Jimmy Corbo

    The aspect I am most pleased about is the immediate endorsement of the process by the Board by backing the findings with funding. This gives me some optimism that the CoE may come inside 5 years, I reckon there is a nice contingency built into the proposed timeline. The pieces for long term sustained success are being put in place.

    On the player market front, you have to think that with the likely coaching movements to come, December/January will see a flurry of player movement and some may fall our way.

    After such a disappointing season I think many fans were hoping for a game by game, training by training review to look for the magic moment it all fell apart. It was never about saying Player X came to training late 2 times, or Defender A should have been sliding instead of going up and in against Manly. To do that would be to replicate the errors of the past and look at today and a quick and temporary fix rather than putting in processes to achieve success tomorrow and well in to the future. I am hopeful (yet to be confident) that our great club will return to our rightful place with the big boys, the next year to 18 months will tell us a lot.

    Great read Lads.

    P.S. Thanks for the call for the meeting with Bernie, just selfish 😉

    1. sixties

      Good stuff Jimmy. You are right. There are some who expected answers around the form of individual players. As you point out, it wasn’t about that.
      Having the endorsement and commitment to provide the structures, staff, facilities etc is the big tick for me.

  9. DDay

    Good to see the review settled and released. Happy with the key findings, these provide the basis for Gurr to implement change and build for the long term success. If Gurr had come in implemented a wholesale change agenda any wobbles would have been slated home to him alone. Gurr now has a framework to work with, organisational by-in, I look forward to seeing a new energy from the Eels front office and results on the field.

    1. sixties

      Wholesale change would have pleased some people, but it wouldn’t have pleased them when it came to results next year. It would have only created instability.

  10. Offside

    After years of supporting this club im not at all interested in what this review or Burnie or the board say only what they do. We have had alot of words over a long time ill judge it by actions and only that

  11. Burty

    Great read guys thanks. Things looking up hopefully. Does anyone know If the review covered Marketing or merchandise I feel our brand is somewhat tarnished since 2010 with so many dramas. A refresh could really help us and fans get back on board.

    1. sixties

      I’m not sure about that Burty. The club has taken a hit with sponsorships after the cap dramas. A poor season like this last one impacts merchandising. Nothing helps commercial bottom lines better than successful seasons. A successful season in a new stadium – that will help. What would you like to see as a refresh?

      1. Burty

        Hi Sixties, A refresh in terms of logo , jersey designs off field merchandise. I was thinking something new and fresh to appeal to a younger generation after all they are most likely to buy gear. I love the eels logo and the 86 jersey but I just feel its been damaged so many times that mabe we put it on the shelf and go another direction.
        You see sixties the on field gear has darker colours (Marine Blue) this season but the logo is still (royal blue) and so is all of the off field gear like pencil cases, quilt covers, flags, mugs, etc. The club needs to understand if you change one thing you have to change everything to line up with your brand.
        Personally I would be getting the club ready for a 2020 refresh across the whole club, I also feel Royal blue is the blue we should go back to but these are just my thoughts.
        Thanks for letting me express them.

        1. colin hussey

          The problem is Burty is you are not going appease everyone. As an old fart the original strips we played in means a lot to me and many others still around, the problem to me was the dumb reverse colours as well as it not being the same as the old one. I am all for a refresh but that can often go stale very quickly as well. The old gear and logo lasted a long time and is culturally correct for an eels and Cumberland district badge.

          Most of the newer jerseys are variations of the first new pin stripped mostly deeper than the royal blue and striped gold at the top that Fitz brought in. To me the old royal blue and gold are our colours and that should be stuck to, I could not stand the canary yellow ones of recent years and are nothing compared to the old one.

          The NRL wants clubs to have a home and away strip fair enough but its actually time for something of older tradition and something of modern to become part of the new future, even if the original ones were kept and make it as they were not trying to modernise it and lose its appeal, and then have one of the better newer ones for the home or away, could they swap over at the half way point of the year?

          Build the team and make them proud of what they are playing in, no better example is the U.S baseball movie Field of dreams to see what can happen to bring the crowds.

          1. Longfin Eel

            Actually Colin, Fitz played in that pin striped jersey in 1975, so he can’t have brought that in. Agreed though with Burty that we need a review of what we market. This needs to be the face of the Eels brand and it needs to appeal to the melting pot that is the Parramatta community today. Some agreement on colours would be a great start

        2. parrathruandthru

          NRL wouldn’t let them change the logo colour this year expect it to match the jersey next year

    1. sixties

      The ISP will be Wenty next year. I hope we get a lower grade game, but the Stadium might have a strong say. I was talking about this topic with Clint yesterday. Expect it to appear as a post.

      1. Rooster

        How much area do they need for a Center of Excellence, could it have been located near the stadium precinct or is the land around it have other infer structure already in place

        1. sixties

          The Panthers cost over $20m when it was built. I had the opportunity to tour it and it’s very impressive. All of the football department staff – management, marketing, membership, commercial etc) – are housed in the one building, along with a massive gymnasium, two huge dressing rooms (top squad and lower grades and complete with Foxtel tvs), spa pools, lecture theatre, kitchen and dining area, physio rooms, video review work stations, coaches’ offices, players recreation room etc. Two football fields – one for NRL, one for lower grades. Two footy field would be the minimum. Ideally you’d have 3-4 so you could train lower grades and junior reps at the same facility and possibly stage junior rep matches on a field with a small stand.
          There’s little of this level of space in Parramatta, but you could construct a double story building at Saleyards.
          The problem – it’s crown land, which Parra lease through the council. So questions would be around that type of development with associated parking etc in a residential area.

          1. John Eel

            The COE being built for the Sydney Swans at the showground is costing in excess of $40Mil. The West Coast Eagles spent more than $60Mil

            The NSW government is tipping in $20Mil towards the Swans COE.

    2. Brett Allen

      Unlikely, stadiums cost a lot of money to operate, the longer they are open on game day the more they cost to run.

      1. sixties

        I spoke with Bernie about this issue. That costing was raised by him as a significant factor. What I don’t understand is the commercial partners and contractors in a stadium have a greater opportunity to generate income over two games rather than just one. I’d have thought that providing a reason for fans to spend more time in the stadium would mean more sales.

        1. Rooster

          Would be great to have 3 grades next year there like the good old days, imagine parra vs panthers 20s, isp the nrl Saturday or Sunday arvo

        2. colin hussey

          Maybe if the games were played closer together than the ones in the past few years since separation people will come back.

          The last game I went to at ANZ last year IIRC with John Eel there was the Flegg team playing in the second half, when it finished we had to sit around for more than an hour or maybe longer and be lamblasted by adds on the big screen some pasty type interviews on the field and a lot of desolation before the players ran on for the disinteresting so called warm up time.

          The players can warm up and rehearse in the sheds and do so without outside distractions, and come on no more than 15 minutes after the conclusion of the previous game. If that became a permanent set up and both teams were doing well then the supporters will come. Two teams at least should be playing and close together rather than the current disconnect..

  12. John Eel

    The addition of the recruitment Manager, Junior coaching coordinator and the board providing funding were standout actions for me on top of what we already new/guessed. As I understand Sharp will still do the recruiting for NRL player and the Recruitment manger will recruit for the age teams.

    Like so many others I am disappointed over the 5 year delay in the COE. Spending money on the Saleyards if it is not the end product is just Regret Capital. My guess is that the 5 year time frame is a result of Capital raising given the money spent on the club upgrades.

    The other thing that I would like to say is that recruiting is a pretty dynamic thing and as a result I am happy that there are no leaks coming out. I am still hopeful that we can get another couple of signings.

    1. sixties

      No, Sharp will be involved in senior recruiting. Anthony Field is junior recruitment. Sharp has great networks and respect. The Recruitment Manager is more likely to make decisions after Sharp is involved in some groundwork.
      I’m also pleased about no leaks John.

    2. colin hussey

      John,, think I said elsewhere that I believe the 5year plan, could not take much less time, and one point as you said in regards to raising money is valid as the PLC has other projects to cover atm as well as the football club and interim training spot.

      The big thing though is that the time aspect should be expected as the club has to find a suitable sight, I think it was Rowdy or Mitch mentioned the hills area, which is possible and the expanding areas around Marsden park that does have a lot of open ground thing is the cost, then council approval along with the prospect of Nimby’s and perhaps government approval.

      It could be 5 years but it could also be a bit longer and through no fault of the club really. Sadly.

  13. West Coast Eel

    Excellent write up. It’s good to see the club moving in the right direction. The new stadium will be a massive bonus for us next year, and I can’t wait to go! Hopefully the CoE is sooner rather than later. It’s obvious we’ve got a bit of work to do to climb off the bottom of the ladder. It looks like the club is doing everything (and more) to make that happen.

    1. mitch

      Yeah a lot of people are asking where this has been in the past 10 years, and that’s a fair point, but as I said above, we can only work with the future, and that’s (thankfully) what it seems we’re doing.

  14. Walpy

    Nice work guys! To those who are stressed out by the fact that the review stated “what we already knew”, I think we need to realise that what we are looking at is the lurching of a fair sized bureaucracy. That is, in that face of the Club’s “administration” due to poor past governance, every strategic change must be considered, researched and evidence based. We can no longer, metaphorically, sit around at the bar and make decisions. We have done that previously and it was amateur hour! I am proud of the fact that the club is now both more discreet and more open….we no longer have amateur club leaders talking to anyone about what should be confidential (recruitment for one, team issues etc etc) and yet we fans are given an idea of the club’s direction if we are interested enough to listen and not merely interested in slinging off at anything that is either reactive or proactive from the club leadership. To the future!

    1. Milo

      Good comment Anon. Spot on. I only hope those reforms get through. We keep hearing Spags is on the fringe with his cronies; that is not good for OUR club bearing in mind what he (and others have done in the past).

  15. Anonymous

    If we are to believe ,taka, bevan , jennings , hoff ,etc are leaving the club imagine how many mistakes per game go with them , icing on cake would be moses who;s mistake rate matches his game control and attitude!!!!!!!!

  16. Trouser Eel

    Over 30 years we’ve had a half dozen coaches, I’m guessing a couple of hundred different players, and been playing in one of the most even competitions in the world. Yet we still haven’t been able to come first out of the 16 clubs vying for the cup.
    The only consistent thing through the process has been that we are Parra.
    It was about time a holistic approach was taken instead of bandaid solutions(change the coach, buy some players, change the training facilities) was taken.
    God I hope it works.

  17. Adam

    Thanks for the post guys. Im especially happy that the review addressed many of the failings that have accumulated over the years. Im quietly optimistic that the recommendations are implemented and that there will be ongoing review to see how things progress. Its great about ISP for 2020. I think it will start to build pride in the jersey at a younger age for players, as well as giving local juniors something to aim for.

    On another note, it amazes me how so many people turned on BA so quickly. He was a rock when the team went through the BS of the salary cap drama and having to deal with a dysfunctional board and the constant self-interested infighting. He took us to a top 4 last year and then this year we tanked. Even Wayne Bennett and Robinson have had poor years as coaches. Im sure that he was hurting by the season we had but I believe he deserves some loyalty and support from the fans, I think we owe him at least that. Yes you may disagree with him and believe there is someone better, but some of the criticism has been over the top and in some cases insulting. Have your opinion but don’t be insulting or rude when expressing it. I for one believe he deserves our support given how he handled himself during 2016-17 and then taking us to a top 4 finish last year. I will never stab him in the back.

    Finally, was there anything in the review about changing the jersey? This seasons one was atrocious.

    1. mitch

      I wholeheartedly agree. With that said, it is a results driven business; so no one is perpetually immune. I just thought BA earned himself another shot after 2016. As I’ve said above, surely it’s 2019 or bust in some respects. Heck, I know it sounds funny, but in general I’d continue to support him just because he’s our coach and I’m an Eels fan.

      1. Adam

        Agree with everything you’ve said. What I’m referring to is give him the support he deserves. Hes the coach for 2019 and I believe he shouldn’t be crucified for what happened this season, especially for the way he’s carried himself in previous seasons. He should be supported rather than being undermined. If he has a poor season next year then I accept whatever eventuates because I too believe in results. But I believe in loyalty, respect and decency as well.

        1. colin hussey

          Adam I agree with everything you said except the bit about the jerseys, have expressed my view on them previously so nothing else to say.

          Way I see so many so called eels fans, and I wont call them supporters are virtual agenda driven so that they get their own way. Fans they call themselves but the wind they generate is heated stench, nothing more, nothing less.

          How would the players and coach be feeling about them and their attacks on their credibility, and what of potential new signings if they were crazy enough to read what is said about them.

          BA came in to a basket case of a club and took us through the worst time in our history, and I’ve been part of the club for more than 50 years and so too my late dad and I know no one in our family who are other than eels supporters for their lives. What other coach could have done that during the Cap issues time, then season 2017?

          BA was robbed of support from above owing to past mismanagement that got us to the point we were at, sure he’s likely made some bad calls in player, selections, recruitment and the like but is he the only coach in the NRL that has done that?

          Not. but those agenda drivers only want to get back control of the club and set up others, Something we do not need again. To me much is not just about the coach but much deeper and too many are not seeing it.

          1. Anonymous

            Well said Colin. I too have been a supported for 40 plus years and have seen the Eels reach the dizziest heights to the lowliest of lows. Whats disappointing is the lack of genuine leadership over the last few years, poor culture at the top, coupled with the blatant self-interests that have played out. I have been in business a long time and I know that in order for my business to succeed I need to develop a strong culture of accountability, support and results. I also have to be open minded and flexible because one person simply does not know it all.

            Unfortunately this hasn’t been the case at Parramatta for a long time. I will set the cat amongst the pigeons here and say that unless we get our house in order why wouldn’t you consider private ownership? It is pointless to keep having the same issues being constantly replayed hoping for different results! Whilst I’m not in favour of privatisation, neither I am in favour of factionalism and incompetency. If privatisation meant a stronger club run by professionals with a proven track record AND love and support the Eels then I’d be open to consider it. It has to be better than the rabble we have had, especially post 2009.

            BTW, I respect your decision re the jersey as well. But I too find it an ugly eye-sore. When I asked my kids if they wanted one, they looked at it and said no way.

          2. Adam

            Well said Colin. Sometimes you feel like you’re watching Days of our Lives or the Liberal and Labor Parties with all the infighting, muck-raking and childish behaviour.

  18. BDon

    Tks sixties and Mitch. Over 20 years or so, i saw and participated in 3 different styles of ‘fix this and turn it around’. One was from an Administration and by that definition, was the patient with the most problems and least oxygen. An old rule of thumb was that if took 5 years to become a basket case, it took 5 years to be prosperous again. And bear in mind, most absolute basket cases are split up, wound down or sold for peanuts. Very few become prosperous again, but a basket case football club which still means something in a community has to be revived at the same time as hoisting the colours each week in a season. The easier get-outs are not available. Decision making becomes complex, trade offs lurk in the shadows, incompetence gets a ride as values have been shot. You basically have to have a total re-set, through clear and simple objectives.
    The thing about this review is it lays out a suitable framework and isn’t overcooked, it’s our re-set and Gurr’s role will be to ensure it is executed and improved where appropriate in a competent way. The 2 part opinion piece on the review published here was pretty well the same framework, so there are no magical new solutions and we were probably incapable of making and implementing critical decisions in the mess we were in prior to 2017.

    1. sixties

      Thanks BDon, the greatest criticism seems to be the lack of blood in the water and the straightforward findings. Horrible eh!
      We were doing some good things – and some not so good things. And though many identified the basics, the board has endorsed the changes. That’s critical.

      1. Milo

        Sixties, a wise person advised me about the culture of the club and that this is being further looked at. Do we assume player group being expanded bearing in mind Scott has left? And i can only hope we have some exp players in mind as possible new targets to come into the team from outside with god experience.

        1. sixties

          A big part of that revolves around leadership training. You can’t just have a couple of leaders, you need a core group, with others stepping up too. They are investing in leadership training.

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