Dear Red V members, corporate partners and supporters,
A lot has happened in the last couple of months since I began in the role here at the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The competition was shut down and then restarted, our staff had to take decreased working hours, while the NRL's implementation of the Apollo Project allowed our team to get back to training and ultimately return to play in empty stadiums. Shortly, we will welcome members, corporate partners and fans back into the stands on game days.
Although the Covid-19 restrictions on the wider community have eased in recent weeks, the same cannot be said for our players and staff, who sit on our Apollo Protocol register. Instead they have permanently shared their time between our training base at WIN Stadium, Wollongong, at home and, if required, at games.
The NRL are hoping that soon there can be a relaxation of these restrictions which will be welcomed by all across the competition.
I would like to take the opportunity to update you on all activities across a few key areas within the club.
Red V Membership
With the announcement of crowds returning to stadiums from July 1, we are looking forward to having our Red V members return to games in the second half of the 2020 season.
Members will receive an email this Wednesday outlining the club's membership resolution options in the light of the COVID-19 interrupted season.
Thank you to all Red V members for your patience while the club worked through the various options in the face of the ever-changing government guidelines.
The football department has been under tremendous pressure in recent weeks, and rightly so. Nobody at the club was happy with the opening month of performances, although it was pleasing to see the Dragons earn their first win of the 2020 campaign on Sunday.
I understand that not all members and fans agree with the board's decision to publicly support coach Paul McGregor last week. Their decision on Paul's future was one out of loyalty and backed by the entire club's commitment to improve.
Moreover, it seems there is a lot the narrative surrounding the club currently targeting negative connotations. I thought it worth clarifying a few points:
- Tristan Sailor has not requested a release;
- Jason Saab has requested a release which the club have denied. We are now working with Jason and his manager in an effort to overcome his off-field concerns; and,
- Isaac Luke has also requested a release for personal reasons regarding his family. While not yet confirmed, Issac's release will be finalised this week. The club are also comfortable with its current crop of hookers considering Cameron McInnes, Billy Brittain and Ben Hunt's ability to all don the No. 9 jumper.
2020 NRL Women's Premiership
We are very excited that the women's competition will be running this year after a period of uncertainty. Thanks to Andrew Abdo and the NRL for making this happen. Our commitment to the women's game was never in doubt throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and we're pleased we now have the opportunity to avenge our 2019 grand final loss.
Our partners have been very supportive during the lockdown period. Their support has been unwavering, and we look forward to welcoming them back to matches in the coming weeks. I'd like to again call out our apparel partners in St.George Bank, TripADeal, Westfund, Modus Projects, Deicorp, Xblades and Paul's Customs and Freight Forwarding Solutions.
We were also fortunate to have Arc Energy join the club recently. You will see their branding on the trainers' apparel on match day. Thank you to Arc Energy for your support in difficult times. We look forward to announcing some new corporate partners in the coming weeks.
It has become obvious that there is a misconception around the Dragons' financial status. The consensus seems to be the club is not in a strong position financially and as such we are forced to make compromised decisions when it comes to investing into our football and commercial activities. This is not the case at all.
We are fortunate to have two shareholders (the St George District Rugby League Football Club and WIN TV) who are both in very good financial positions. The Dragons have no debt with the NRL and were aiming to make a profit this year before the COVID-19 interruption. In saying that, I believe we will get through this season financially as well as any club in the NRL.
The Dragons' board, executive team and staff are and committed to ensuring our club emerges from these challenging times in a strong position and financially secure.
Thank you to all our members, corporate partners and fans for your patience, understanding and support throughout this period.
As always, please take care and do everything you can to ensure those near and dear to you remain healthy and safe.
CEO - St George Illawarra Dragons