The Cumberland Throw

The Spotlight – “Powerful Lobby Group” AKA Faction

In December 2019, the constitutional reform process for both the Parramatta Eels and the Parramatta Leagues Club was successfully completed when over 90 percent of voting members supported PLC reforms.

It should have been achieved within a reasonable time frame, but there were those who opposed change. They opposed merit selection of the new PLC board. With constitutional change requiring at least 75% “yes” votes, such opposition by so few delayed governance reform for years.

Now, nearly one year down the track, Dean Ritchie of the Daily Telegraph is reporting that a “powerful Parramatta lobby group” threatening to “overthrow the board” has earned an audience with senior Eels management next week in an attempt to have Paul Green, Shane Flanagan and Tim Sheens named on Arthur’s coaching staff.

Who is this powerful lobby group?

In my opinion, reaching for the Sixties thesaurus, “powerful lobby group” translates as faction.

This sort of lobbying and their demands shouldn’t get any air time from us. But after yesterday’s media coverage, my phone rang off the hook. There was no shortage of people wanting to express their opinion to me. Not because they agreed with the lobbyists, but rather there were concerns as to why this group could be given any credence. The flood of such responses resulting from major media coverage meant it became more difficult to hit the old ignore button.

In gaining this exposure, the lobbyists have, to my mind, exemplified what factions stand for – a return to the bad old days of dragging our club into the media in attempted power plays.

Described by Ritchie as comprising local businessmen, corporate partners, politicians and sponsors, they are also said to remain “unsettled and unfulfilled”.

Don’t worry, those of us who attended the multitude of PLC General Meetings required to achieve reform saw plenty of “unsettled and unfulfilled” behaviour.

Now Dean Ritchie provides details on the behaviour of these lobbyists’, “the 20-member group will virtually demand a premiership win in 2021 or start agitating to overthrow the board.”

Yes, threats of destabilisation!

Of course the new constitution of the Parramatta Leagues Club doesn’t allow any “overthrow”. There are now triennial elections. The reality is that such threats are completely impotent and a reminder of why the club had to move forward from the days when a faction actually could overthrow the board.

It’s not that I don’t have my concerns. In fact, I’m irate.

When these groups take their campaigns to the media, they are damaging our Eels brand. The club has been heading into a bright future via good governance, and the stability and professionalism that such governance brings.

Reminders of factionalism, no matter how impotent their threats, only serve to undermine perceptions of the Eels with, at the very least, potential commercial consequences.

How narrow minded are such actions? How self centred?

Here’s the answer to those questions:

“The group wants to work with directors and will make it clear they expect results.”

So this group, without merit selection or without membership vote, expect that they have the right to work with directors and set the agenda for what results are to be achieved?

And central to their platform – the appointment of Shane Flanagan in an assistant coach capacity.

Say what?

Let’s just quickly examine how that would benefit the Eels.

This very season, 2020, Flanagan “assisted” the Dragons to 12th place on the ladder with less than half the victories of the Eels. And he’s an assistant coach because he was deregistered by the NRL in 2019 and is not currently allowed to be a head coach.

Why was he deregistered?

Because he failed to comply with the conditions of his 2014 suspension for his role in the Sharks supplements saga. Yes, this is a coach who has been both suspended and deregistered. Brilliant suggestion.

But there’s more. Besides not being allowed to coach during every year of his tenure at the Sharks, his club was found guilty of committing significant salary cap breaches from 2013 to 2018.

Of course, within that period was the Premiership year of 2016, which Paul Kent put into context by declaring the Sharks were “systematically cheating” and that “when the club won the competition they were under the salary cap on the day”. On the day!

For those who forgot about the roster that such breaches allowed them to assemble, the Sharks grand final starting 13 included 9 Origin stars, and a future Origin player.

And besides his 13th and 14th placed finishes, and that tainted Premiership season, Flanagan’s record in coaching the Sharks to five other finals appearances includes four exits in either the first or second week of the finals. Only a 7th placed finish in 2012 occurred outside of the cap cheating period.

The Eels currently undertake extensive due diligence in the recruitment of players. One cannot imagine that a coach with Flanagan’s record would be seen as a beneficial addition to our organisation.

But I do have one other concern.

As Dean Ritchie also reported, “It is understood around five members of the group will meet Eels chief executive Jim Sarantinos, club chairman Sean McElduff, and possibly general manager of football Mark O’Neill, on Thursday.”

This “lobby group”, this faction, do not deserve the right to an audience with Parramatta Eels executives. If the club firstly agreed to a meeting in the interests of club unity and transparency, then this group have surely forfeited any meeting with such destabilising media bleating.

In fact, were this meeting to now unfold, it would be insulting to all of the individual PLC  members who railed against factionalism through far too many general meetings.

Never forget, it was via the members, not any factions, that club governance reform was successful. Factions no longer hold any political influence over our Parramatta Eels.

Eels forever!


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Sixties, I hope that if this meeting takes place, that it lasts for about 30s to 1 minute, and it goes something along the lines of: “well, that was wonderful, but we run the show for the time being. We have a plan and when we are looking for assistance, we will seek it in the appropriate channels. Take a look on if we’re recruiting dropkicks in the near future.”

Kevin Crawley

Matt,well bloody said.



Brett Allen

No doubt Andrew Eagleston either leads or is part of this group

Parra Pete

Who is he when he is not at home? What is his story?


Well said Sixties, he does not deserve even the slightest of mention on this legitimate, forum.
Stand tall you are reflective of the majority of proud Parra supporters.

Brett Allen

All I’ll say is that he was one of those who most virulently opposed Max Donnelly’s reforms

Longfin Eel

I think the club, members and supporters would do well to ignore everything that Dean Ritchie says. He has proven time and again that he writes only to generate click bait, with very little factual relevance. The more we fall for this, the more he will do it. Do us all a favour Eels supporters and don’t read that sort of tripe.

I’m happy that the club is now in a position to ignore these “threats”, but the club would also be wise to promote their own agenda during the off season.

Colin Hussey

Totally agree that they should not be granted a meeting, but if they are, then as soon as the meeting is opened, those who attend and it should be no more than the 3 from the eels side, they should be just advised as to who runs the eels, and the board makes the decisions in association with the head coach as to the direction of the club. That includes players, coaching and other respective staff.

End of meeting.

Joshua Randal

This pisses me off no end. Not only the selfishness of those involved with this “lobby” but the fans who think after all the hard work the club has put in to put these fractions behind us and build a stable front office, that this is a good idea. How short are peoples memories that a return to fractions and boardroom drama seems like a good idea? This is not the behaviour of a side who’s capable of winning a comp. They’re hindering their own agenda. Talk of getting Flanagan and Green makes me question the business aptitude of those… Read more »


This is madness. The club finished third not third last. That does not mean the club should stop seeking ways to improve. Far from it. And I don’t mind constructive discussion about the finals records and the roster. But a bunch of anonymous nobodies leaking to the Telecrap is not progress. And Flanagan should not be anywhere near the club for the reasons everyone has mentioned.


The club must control the message. If you lie with dogs you get fleas. Unless you intend to give these factions control there is no point meeting them. They want control nothing less. The Parra fan base at times is divided but not on this. We support the board because they are factionless. Don’t go there, the board will lose my trust if they meet them. In fact I normally say ignore the media but a short sharp official response such as ‘ we have not and will not meet these ‘ power groups’. If they don’t the board is… Read more »


Agree Shelley, the Board can kill this story off pretty quickly with a carefully crafted communique reminding everyone who in control.

Trouser Eel

You nailed it Shelley. My thoughts exactly. Jim Sarantinos needs to get on the front foot with this one and show the members how straight up the board is. Anything less is insulting to all those that went through all the BS associated with getting the reforms through.


Speaking of Dogs, this is like C’bury. How bad is that going?

John Eel

Milo that may be part of Dean Ritchie’s motivation for the article. Take the focus away from the Dogs


I will ask this. Have these people learned nothing from the “3P” ticket that ousted the board in 2009 and kicked off years of off-field turmoil, and subsequent on-field appalling performances? It is apparent this is little more than stoking their own ego, and having little understanding of what makes a modern football club successful. They are just trying to repeat history for their own gratification. If they really loved the club, they would steer clear of any such demands. But they don’t. They’re nothing more than fans. Fans that want to run it and want the prestige. I’m sorry,… Read more »

Verbosity, be thy name

Sigh …. really … a “powerful lobby group” … I think all Eels fans can see right through the smoke and mirrors going on here. The same basic group of people who just can’t handle not being thought of as relevant or “steering the rudder” in some shape or form. For anyone that’s had anything to do with the shenanigans of these people, we all have a good idea who they are (and also who they are NO LONGER!). And … to be quite blunt, some journalists who are short of a good story know that anything on The Eels… Read more »


Even by having this article in TCT they have been empowered, so in no way should any reasonably connected individual have any thing to do with them. My first thoughts when I read this article is not how we receive them i.e. simply we don’t but more to the point if this group exists at all and they are well connected businessman and the like, they should be putting together a coterie of financial influence and the like to enable Parra to compete on a equal playing field to some of the locked in finalists that we see every year.… Read more »

Darryl West

It was in the Daily-Tell-U-Crap. Enough said. I would take more notice if Andrew Dolt or Peta Cretin had written it.


My membership has 10 months to go until I reach the three year mark.
I only joined to vote against the factions.

Jpe Briffa

I don’t even know why a meeting is to take place if in fact it is going to take place and Ritchie should have done his homework and looked into it properly but when it comes to Parramatta the truth doesn’t sell papers.


Joe, do we really think they will meet with these nuffies? Maybe behind a wall at the club or ground…..

Colin Hussey

Joe, when I worked at Werris Creek, & driving trains to 4 areas radiating from there, also the aspect of having a small acreage that was perfect for growing rocks and thistles, during the daylight hours I had to watch for Brown Snakes as they settled in areas, also tried to get in our chook pen for their eggs, but they were at least visible. The worst though was at night, when the foxes came out, sneaky and ready to pounce & get through the wire to the chooks, but they made enough racket to let you know the lurking… Read more »


Perhaps if, out of curiosity,we knew who the 20 or so people are, we could understand their motives better. Not that I really want to, I have absolutely no reason to doubt the Board and Management, I think we will see they will follow sound principles and seek ongoing improvement in the club, on and off the field. That’s business management 101. We are still in the first 3 year cycle of the ‘new’ organisation, It is totally amateur to expect such a basket case to be perfect in the blink of an eye, Their motives are not based on… Read more »


BDon, thank you for being calm enough to give a measured response to why a potential meeting with these 5 representatives of the cohort may not be such a bad idea. The board has given what I believe to be a respectful concession to a group of potential “business, political and influential group of commercial ladies and gentlemen”. By agreeing to meet with the appropriate level of our clubs representatives in CEO Jim Sarantinos and co. As Trouser mentioned, Jim S. needs to get on the front foot. He can do this on our terms; conducting the agenda on his… Read more »

Last edited 4 days ago by Rowdy
Colin Hussey

Great post Rowdy, and agree. If this group does meet with our board, there should be a limitation put on the number of them to attend, no more than are there representing the club, also I think our Coach should be there as either observer or participator in order to defend himself against anything said about/against him. Again, If the meeting goes ahead, then the reps of the group should put their case, with evidence to support it to the board, and hopefully the board will respond to them on the night their view especially if they have received a… Read more »


Tks Rowdy…whilst I am happy to claim the sensible approach you outline, I must say my motives are borne out a life where scheming humans wandered into frame from time to time. Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.


Rowdy knows how I feel about this. I am not on board with any meeting of a group who conduct themselves in this manner. There is no end of story with them. Therein lies the problem


Here here mate; faction is all they are, and they have no credibility through their actions. Its quite laughable really, as its been in the media and it shows the maturity of the reporting too.
Lucky our club has shown some sense and has reform in place.
These people are not real supporters of the club for me, they are agitators and attempting to throw their weight around.
Sponsors and players would be cringing at this rubbish.


I stay away from the political in fighting I honestly don’t care.. What i want to see is a club moving forward at the moment I see one that is complacent maybe my standards are to high but I see this season as a failure 3rd in the regular season is meaningless if you end so timidly. If these people are real and it leads to the club making positive moves with the coaching staff (Not necessarily the Flanno) I’m all for it, we have been shown up as pretenders or a tier 2 club it’s obvious that moves are… Read more »


Offside, I will say it again we need to be ruthless on the field and off it, and like Melbourne. You cannot let chances in the top 4 slip like this, as Canberra will have seen even though they were out of the 4. Our defence and attention to errors needs to be better in my view. The game is simple in many ways, we just need to be better at those 1%ers. Next yr it becomes that little bit harder, with players moving on and yes some of those were not in the 17 but Jenko, Evans and lesser… Read more »


100% and that’s what scares me do we have the staff to develop that extra bit? I don’t think so.
We don’t know what the club is planning but I think everyone can agree changes need to happen


There are always changes with a club every year. For example, Ryan Carr and Trent Elkin were added this year. And though the exit disappointed me, it was not anywhere timid.

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