The St George Illawarra Dragons have made a number of strategic and complex decisions in recent times and there has been a lot of speculation and misinformation surrounding our Club.
Some key facts in relation to many of these matters with respect to various areas of the Dragons Business can be located on the following pages or click on the tabs above;
Four year strategic plan - Profitability by 2017 - Long term sustainability
Red V Member and Corporate Forums - Interaction with Management
Dragons in Good Financial Shape - Club Sustainability priority for NRL - Only 2 Clubs make a profit
Time for Change - Dragons Governance is currently under review
Leagues Club Funding - Has decreased, but will always remain - expected decrease continues
Right Game Right Venue (RGRV) - enabling games at Jubilee and WIN
Short and long term success
Read All About It - 2014 Year in Review – Business and Football
In addition to the above links the 2014 Annual Report is available or viewing and download at the following web link.
This publication contains reports from the Clubs’ Chairman, CEO, Head Coach, NYC Coaches, NSW Cup Coach, High Performance Staff, St George District and Steelers Rugby League.
If you have any questions regarding any of the above information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Four Year Strategic Plan – Profitability by 2017 - Long Term Sustainability
In 2012/13, mindful of the projected downturn of financial input from the Leagues Clubs, the formation of a new Commission and Executive Management Team at the NRL, the Dragons developed a four-year Strategic Plan for the period 2014-2017.
The Dragons were one of the first Clubs to present our plan to the NRL Management and Commission and have been working closely with key representatives of the NRL Management Team since that time.
Our Plan is about transitioning to profitability and sustainability by 2017 and we have partnered with the NRL in a “commercially in confidence” arrangement to enable us to re-engineer the Dragons Business in line with the changing nature of Rugby League, in a business sense.
Please see below link to a video of Dragons CEO Peter Doust presenting to Strategic Plan to Corporate Partners at a Forum in May 2014. This has been shared with Corporate Partners and Red V Members and on our website since that time.
In line with the Commission’s support of the Dragons Business Plan, the Dragons also received special funding in Financial Year 2014 from the NRL Innovation Fund, for four very important Projects, to complement the Business Plan strategies, namely:
Specific objectives of these projects are outlined as follows:
Project Fan Engagement and Membership
Develop a clear roadmap for future growth within Membership and consumer products through the implementation of a best practice Fan Engagement model to support future sustainability of the Dragons Business. Development of a robust whole of business approach based on quantifiable research findings, to support the long-term strategic plan incorporating a holistic Ticket Marketing, Sales, and Service Plan.
Project Participation, Pathways and Elite Performance
Enhance Rugby League’s position from the mass participation perspective while systemising and strengthening the support structures via consistent involvement with “grass roots” clubs, increased development and retention of high quality athletes, positive relationships with all links in the Rugby League family. Develop a “Best Practice” model that can be adopted and integrated across other NRL Clubs, supporting “Whole of Game” programs and strategies. Assist in the creation of a sustainable elite player development funding mechanism, rewarding 'development Clubs' for their investment and contribution to the game.
Develop a framework to implement a Major Gifts Funding and a Bequest Program providing a sustainable and ongoing revenue stream for the Club, to contribute towards asset development including a premier health, research and fitness facility that delivers far-reaching benefits to the Club, the Community and the Game. The project will seek to partner with local businesses, government, high net worth individuals and community organisations to collaborate on key initiatives while strengthening the Dragons impact in the community and connections with stakeholders.
Transition the existing Dragons Community investment and activities into a self sustainable community engagement structure that will provide the framework necessary to redefine current programs and serve to open up additional opportunities for program funding. Sustainable investment into community strategies will enable further growth of programs while alignment with NRL Community and Government priorities will remain a key focus.
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Red V Member and Corporate Forums – Interaction with Management
Since the inception of the Red V Membership program in 2002, the Dragons have held two Forums annually for Red V Members where Members registered questions for Management and received updates from the Club.
Below is a link to Videos from the 2014 Red V Membership Forums where key topics such as Venue Costs, Recruitment, Membership, Fan Engagement, Home Games, Funding Business and New Markets were discussed.
In 2014, the Club held similar Forums for their Corporate Partners with representatives from NRL Management. Videos from these events covering subjects such as: Dragons Business Plan, Right Game Right Venue, Financial Sustainability, Club Profitability, NRL Strategic Priorities, Football and Participation can be found at the below link
Forums in 2015 – The New Red V Forum/Forums for All
In April, the Club announced specific details on the formation of a “Members Advisory Forum”, to work with the Club and NRL in relation to all Member and Fan Experience activities at the Dragons.
The Members Advisory Group is designed as an interactive Forum that will participate in two face-to-face meetings a year with Dragons and NRL Management to discuss relevant issues and topics. Other Communication opportunities will also be provided throughout the year.
The Club will also be running two events in 2015 specifically related to Football and Recruitment.
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Finances – Dragons in Good Financial Shape
Club Sustainability priority for NRL – Only 2 Clubs on make a profit
In any one-year, traditionally, only two NRL Clubs make a profit – the Brisbane Broncos (one team/state Club with market dominance) and the Premiers.
In 2014, Brisbane and South Sydney were the only NRL Clubs to make a profit.
The only year the Dragons made a profit was 2010 when we last won the Premiership.
Club Sustainability is of the highest priority for the NRL and the Management Team, headed by CEO Dave Smith, former international banker, has developed and strengthened the financial management capabilities within the NRL.
For the 14 NRL Clubs that don’t make a profit, additional funds are required to be sourced and since 2013 the Dragons have chosen to enter into a Partnership with the NRL who are cash flowing the re-engineering of the Dragons Business fundamentals and Plans for Sustainability.
Any money from the NRL has been loaned on commercial terms, as is standard lending/banking practice, particularly given the team of highly skilled and qualified former Bankers now employed at the NRL. Loan repayments are factored into the budgets and forecasts of the four-year Business Plan.
Contrary to inaccurate media reports, the Dragons did not lose $5 million in 2014, the loss was around $2 million in FY2014, which was projected and budgeted for, notwithstanding some difficult and unplanned business circumstances such as a high value sponsor going into liquidation without paying the contracted revenue.
The Right Game Right Venue Strategy improved the Dragons Profit and Loss by over $1 Million.
We were also able to develop the NRL’s first Gate Share model with South Sydney where both Clubs can work together to promote the two annual games and generate a return from both as opposed to just the home game.
Below is a link to audio of Dragons CEO Peter Doust, discussing the Club’s Finances at the end of 2014.
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Governance – Time for Change - Dragons Governance is currently under review
The Board of the St George Illawarra Dragons comprises representatives of the two shareholder organisations: The St George District Rugby League Football Club and the Steelers Club.
The Board of the St George District Rugby League Football Club is appointed by the Board of St George Leagues Club.
Leagues Club Members who have been a full Member for a minimum of three years are eligible to nominate and stand for election to the Board of St George Leagues Club, as is standard practice across the Licensed Club industry.
Over the past 15 years, these Clubs have provided over $70 million in funding to the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The Board of the St George Illawarra Dragons comprises four representatives of the St George District Rugby League Football Club Board:
Chairman: Warren Lockwood, CEO/Executive Director Peter Doust, Peter Black and Brian Johnston
Three representatives of the Steelers Club Board:
Bob Millward, Graeme Gulloch and Sean O’Connor and …
One Independent Director, Andrew Gordon, Executive Chairman WIN Corporation.
Members are eligible to nominate for election of the Board of the St George Leagues Club and thus the St George District Rugby League Football Club and Steelers Club Shareholder Board after three years of full Membership.
The Process is not dissimilar to the process at a number of NRL Clubs including: Manly, Panthers, Eels and the Bulldogs.
The only NRL Membership program where Club Members have the opportunity to stand and vote for representation (2 Members) on the NRL Club Board is under the Private Ownership Model, at the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The stability of Governance at Board level of the St George Illawarra Dragons has been a feature of the Clubs Management since the merger in 1999, noting that the Dragons are the only joint venture to have survived, successfully.
Last year the Board of Directors at the Dragons began to investigate alternative Governance models. The review of the Governance Model, with input from the NRL, includes best practice across a variety of sports and industries and private ownership models.
Such a process is detailed and complex and it is imperative to get the structure right for the future of the Club. It is difficult to put a timeframe on when any outcomes and decisions will be made with respect to any changes in Governance at the Dragons.
Below is a link to audio of Dragons CEO Peter Doust, discussing the Club’s Governance Review
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Leagues Club Funding – Has Decreased, but will always remain / Expected Decrease Continues
Funding from Shareholder Clubs, St George District Rugby League Football Club (St George Leagues Club) and the Steelers Club has been gradually reducing since 2006 when funding was at its highest, over $5 million, to $790,000 in 2014.
The decision by the Shareholder Clubs to reduce their input to the Dragons due to other Business Priorities means that the Dragons have been required to seek additional funds from alternate sources as well as work to reduce costs and increase revenue, across the business.
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Right Game Right Venue Strategy (RGRV) – Enabling Games at Jubilee & WIN
The “Right Game Right Venue” decision was well documented and it is a commitment for four years.
Below are links to the information, but in essence, without such a decision, the long-term sustainability of the Club was in jeopardy or cuts to football would have been necessary.
The costs associated with playing at suburban grounds have been escalating, the NSW Government has made it very clear that they would no longer continue to invest in suburban grounds and the NRL’s Strategic Venue Plan is also focused on the larger Stadiums.
The NRL linked various other incentives such as marketing support and draw considerations in support of the decision on Right Game Right Venue and our Club has been in danger of being left behind the other larger Sydney NRL Clubs.
Playing at the larger venues where other big Sydney brands play (Bulldogs, Rabbitohs, Wests Tigers, Eels) increases the inventory of games and opportunities for Members and Corporate Partners.
Reciprocity arrangements with these Clubs also enables us to develop packages and target new markets such as Western Sydney where independent research tells us we have the highest supporter based outside of the Clubs located in Western Sydney.
In 2014 our home crowds increased from 12.4k to 16.6k and were in fact the third highest in the NRL as a result of the RGRV Strategy
The Right Game Right Venue Strategy saw the average crowds at the four bigger venues at 20,000 while Jubilee and WIN Stadium averaged 11,000.
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Football - Short and Long Term Success
Appointment of Paul McGregor as Head Coach – The Decision
The process for selecting the Head Coach was outlined at the time of the announcement and a number of candidates were considered and interviewed, please see the below link:
Salary Cap – Complex but not a Mess
As a Club we were very upfront and honest in relation to our salary cap situation in late September, where we outlined that the salary cap issues for 2015 related to some unexpected bonus payments and the decision by Joel Thompson to withdraw his transfer request after the Club had granted this on compassionate grounds and signed Benji Marshall. See below for the full update:
Another element of the roster movements for 2015 was due to the fact that we had a new Coach for 2015 and he had a desire to change the roster. This is not dissimilar to what took place at all Clubs with new Coaches for 2015 i.e. Brisbane, Newcastle, Warriors, Wests Tigers etc.
The management of the salary cap is a complex and intricate process and not something that can be looked at in isolation for any one player in any one year. It is something that is actively managed and something that we have a team of people working on daily and it is overseen and managed by our newly appointed Director of Recruitment and Retention, Peter Mulholland.
Recruitment – Appointment of Peter Mulholland
Following a review of Football, a decision was made to restructure Football and reengineer recruitment and the highly experienced Peter Mulholland was appointed as Director of Recruitment and Retention.
Please see below link in relation to the appointment of Peter Mulholland
In the pre-season, Peter Mulholland answered questions from Red V Members in relation to recruitment and the salary cap at the Dragons – to view these videos, please click on the below link
In April, 2015 Mulholland answered further questions from Red V Members – to view these please click on the below link
As a Club, in general we don’t like to discuss and comment, publicly, on such negotiations, as we believe that it is not in the best interests of the anyone associated, especially our team.
Trent’s Manager had a different view and offered much comment and information for public discussion.
Everyone at the Dragons wanted Trent to remain at the Club, we provided upgrades to Trent that were legal and not contracted to him in the past two years as a show of our intent.
We made Trent the highest offer that our Club has ever made to a forward in the history of our Club and our Recruitment Team and Coaching Staff were not prepared to increase the offer or match the greater offer from Penrith as they believed that it would have a detrimental impact on the balance of the roster and salary cap moving forward.
There was no handshake agreement or broken promises.
Please click on the below link to hear what Coach Paul McGregor had to say about this situation and Trent’s decision to depart at the seasons end.
Brett requested the release on compassionate grounds and whilst over a long period of time, various people at the Club attempted to change his mind, he didn’t want to be at the Dragons and the Club didn’t think that it was right to stand in his way after everything that he has given to this Club.
All the facts and further details are outlined in the original statement and supporting videos.
Jack Bird and Jackson Hastings
Jack Bird is a talent that our Club identified from an early age, developed and assisted, especially with respect to his well-documented arthritic medical condition.
We had been discussing Jack’s contract extension with his Manager and family over an extended period of time to see him stay at the Club.
Our offer was competitive to that of Cronulla’s but Jack wanted to play NRL, this was not something that our Club was in a position to guarantee. Jack thought that the opportunity and pathway offered at Cronulla gave him the best opportunity to play first grade in 2015.
Jackson Hastings was another obvious talent in our junior system, the Sydney Roosters made a significant offer for Jackson and he had a real desire to play at the Club for whom his father played. Our Recruitment Team was satisfied that there was not anymore that they could have done to retain Jackson.
Junior Talent and Retention – You can’t keep them all
It should also be noted that whilst we were not able to secure Jack Bird and Jackson Hastings, we were able to re-sign nine players from the NYC team of 2014 that finished one game off the Grand Final.
Drew Hutchinson (NSW U20); Jacob Host (Australian Schoolboy, NSW U18); Luciano Leilua (Australian Schoolboy, NSW U18); Hame Sele (Australian Schoolboy, NSW U18); Matt Dufty (NSW U18); Addin Fonua-Blake (Junior Kiwi), Euan Aitken (Junior Kangaroos) Izaac Thompson and Jack Kavanagh.
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