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The contentious Wests Tigers review which resulted in the entire board being dissolved has recommended the club’s future lies in south-west Sydney, which it believes is the key to the struggling joint venture becoming an NRL powerhouse.
Just a day after chairman Lee Hagipantelis and chief executive Justin Pascoe left the club, sources not authorised to speak publicly about the review because of its confidential nature, said one of the most pressing recommendations centres on its Campbelltown catchment area.
The review, compiled by former NRL chief financial officer Tony Crawford and businessman Gary Barnier, highlighted the club’s perceived lack of progress in one of the country’s fastest-growing corridors.
The Tigers will increase their number of home matches at Campbelltown to five next year, but club sources said Crawford and Barnier’s review urged for a far greater effort in the Campbelltown and Macarthur region.
The Tigers’ $75 million centre of excellence opened in Concord last year, and the NRL squad has spent most of its time training in the inner west over the lifetime of the joint venture.
But the review, commissioned by the Holman Barnes Group, the Tigers’ major shareholder, is set to prompt the club to come up with an entirely new blueprint for the area as it tries to climb out of the NRL cellar.
The Tigers will increase the number of games played at Campbelltown next year to five.Credit: Getty
Asked about the importance of Campbelltown, incoming interim chief executive Shane Richardson said: “If you look at where the growth is of this club, it’s massive.
“We’ve got to not only be doing things in that area, we’ve got to be seen to be doing things as well. I don’t think we’ve pushed our own barrow about how much we’re doing out there and what staff we’ve got to do it. At the end of the day, it’s crucial to the growth of this club.
“People talk about Penrith, which is a magnificent area, 8500 juniors, Parramatta [has] 6000 … we’ve got more. If you take in Camden right through that area, we’ve got a massive junior network we need to pick up. It’s a major focus.
“I’ve always loved a Reschs and a hot dog at Leichhardt, but at the end of the day the growth of the club is in that [Campbelltown and Macarthur] area. It’s as simple as that.”
The Tigers have long been under siege in south-west Sydney.
Richardson’s former club, South Sydney, announced a historic partnership with A-League side Macarthur two years ago to “promote their respective codes in south-western Sydney”.
Crawford is no stranger to the Tigers’ Campbelltown problem in his previous role with the NRL, and it will be one of Richardson’s first points of business after addressing the media for the first time on Wednesday.
He will join forces with former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell at the new leadership apex of the club, with Hagipentelis and Pascoe standing aside after the review recommended the club’s former board be abolished.
“It’s a matter of us saying, ‘If you do these little things right, the little things like work harder, then everything else falls in place’,” Richardson said.
“You can’t let the media blow you off the track, you can’t let politics blow you off the track, you can’t let a loss on the weekend blow you off the track. You’ve got to keep to the plan you decide as a team to do – and that team is administration and all the coaching staff.”
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