New Era at Souths Begins Today With Official Handover Ceremony
The official handover ceremony for the South Sydney District Rugby League Football Club took place at Sydney Town Hall this afternoon, with Peter Holmes à Court and Russell Crowe officially taking control of Rugby League’s most famous Club.
In a symbolic moment, outgoing Football Club Chairman Nicholas Pappas handed over the Football Club’s historic first minute book to Mr Holmes à Court, who, in turn, handed over a $3 million cheque in exchange for the 75% stake.
This historic transaction was approved by a staggering 76 per cent majority of the Club’s voting Membership at the 19 March Extraordinary General Meeting.
Mr Holmes à Court said today’s ceremony was not only the culmination of many months of hard work, it also indicated the beginning of the hard work ahead to rebuild the legend and return this Club to its rightful place at the top of the NRL.
“Since the history-making vote of March 19 when members voted overwhelmingly to let Russell Crowe and myself take control of this great Club, I have had the opportunity to make preparations for this day - the starting line to a new era for the NRL’s most successful club,” Mr Holmes à Court said.
”I have listened to countless Football Club Members and supporters, interviewed all members of the current management, directors and past directors, as well as having had the pleasure of meeting the administrators and directors of other leading football clubs in Australia.
”Neither Russell nor I underestimate the job ahead, which will include the most challenging elements of turning around a business with an era of underperformance, against the backdrop of the ruthless toughness of Rugby League.
”However we are prepared to take on this challenge, starting today. Many of our changes will at times be hidden, and at times they will be public and appropriately trumpeted. ”But we know our first step must be start to rebuild a winning culture.
“The South Sydney Rabbitohs are now a unique partnership: on the one hand Russell and I have management control and on the other, members have true protections and control of our key heritage elements.
“We humbly respect the mutual obligation created by our partnership with the Members, and we look forward to working with them to achieve our mutual goal.
“We believe we can create a winning football club, change our community for the better, provide proof it can be done against the odds and change the lives of thousands of Australian kids.”
Outgoing South Sydney Football Club Chairman and current South Sydney Members Rugby League Football Club Chairman Nicholas Pappas said the Club now has its best chance of not only surviving, but prospering.
“This Club has been through many battles, from near extinction, to reinstatement and now this re-birth, and this handover of control represents our greatest opportunity to achieve the heights this Club so richly deserves,” Mr Pappas.
“This new ownership structure is a partnership between Peter Holmes à Court, Russell Crowe and the 8,000 plus Members that have kept this Club functioning for many years. Peter and Russell take on a precious legacy from today, but I know that they value the heritage and traditions of this great Football Club.
“The Members have given Peter and Russell an overwhelming mandate to turn the fortunes of this Club around and I am confident they have the business acumen and the passion to rebuild the legend that is the Rabbitohs.
“I am looking forward to working with Peter, Russell and the new Football Club Board to make this Club successful again.”
Rabbitohs CEO Shane Richardson says the new way of doing business with the Rabbitohs will ensure a return to the peak of the League.
“So many things have already changed since the EGM on March 19, but these are all small steps towards the ultimate goal,” Mr Richardson said.
“This Club is heading in the right direction, with over $500,000 of improvements to our current training base at Erskineville Oval and $19.5 million being spent by the City of Sydney Council on our return to Redfern in 2008 with state-of-the-art facilities for our players and coaches.
“We will service our sponsors better; we will provide our staff, both playing and administrative staff, with the right resources to do their jobs; we will continue to contribute to Rugby League and keep it as the number one sport on the East Coast. We will learn from other codes and implement positives that we can gain from those sports; and we will adopt best practice wherever possible.
“We are building our team off the field as is evidenced by the signing of our Recruitment Manager Mark Hughes and the addition of Jason Taylor to the coaching staff for 2007.
“We are working with the NRL to create a better environment for our players to operate in and provide them with more opportunities away from the field of play.
“We will have new ticketing and Membership options for the 2007 season which will provide our Members with a new and exciting way of interacting with their Club.
“We have a great focus on delivering the best service to our sponsors, as well as attracting the best sponsors to this Club.
“We have a commitment to playing our games at Telstra Stadium for the coming seasons, a move which has worked so far and a relationship that we are continuing to build to this day to provide the best game day experience for our fans.
“When I began working for the Rabbitohs, we were $1 million worse off than I thought we would be. Nick Pappas and his Board have done a fantastic job to keep the Club running to this point. We now have an opportunity to take the next steps to get back to the top of the NRL ladder.
“We will be going into the player market in a better position this year than we did last year, as we have a strong recruitment and retention committee to attract the right players to the Club who want to be here and want to give their all for the Rabbitohs.
“These are all small steps, but these small steps are necessary to make this Club great once again.”