'It's a vote of confidence': Panthers board re-elected unopposed

The Sydney Morning Herald Sports 1 week ago

Penrith will go into the 2020 season without the distraction of a battle for control of its board after the incumbent directors were re-elected unopposed.

Chairman David O’Neill, deputy Greg Alexander and board members Ian Hicks, Peter Graham and Mark Mulock will retain their positions in charge after nominations to challenge closed at 10am on Thursday. Another director, Rob Wearn, will also retain his spot given he is an independent and wasn’t up for re-election.

The Panthers won't have to deal with the distraction of board elections in 2020.

The development should give the Panthers a period of relative stability after the upheaval caused by the departures of former coach Anthony Griffin, football supremo Phil Gould and a number of high-profile players including James Maloney, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Waqa Blake and Regan Campbell-Gillard.

“It’s a vote of confidence by the members in the board,” said Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher. “It’s nice to have a stable board, it’s been stable from a long time. It’s a great result for the board and the chairman. It’s a well-rounded board with plenty of experience.

“It’s come at a critical time, we’ve got $1 billion of developments going on (in the Panthers precinct) with 780 units going up, which have started. We’ve got the new conference centre, a new hotel and a retirement village and most of it has to be completed within the next two years.”

For most members, the performance of the team will be the biggest barometre of the board’s success. The Panthers were expected to be premiership contenders when coach Ivan Cleary reunited with his son, halfback Nathan, at the foot of the mountains. However, the side failed to perform consistently and missed the playoffs.

Fletcher predicts the team will perform better next year after blooding a raft of exciting rookies.

“We’re only young, there are only four players over 25,” Fletcher said. “They have had another year (in the NRL) and have more first-grade experience, you’d think they would improve.

“Liam Martin, Stephen Crichton, Brian To’o - they could get to a level where they are really exciting, with Jarome Luai and Nathan there to take control now (in the halves).

“It’s very stable around the place and fingers crossed - it is a funny industry - that we can keep going forward and everyone will enjoy 2020.”

Canterbury will also avoid the disruption that normally comes with their biennial election cycle.

There will be no rebel ticket jockeying for votes at the ballot box, with only four independents to contest what will likely be only one available spot on the seven-member board. The result is a show of confidence in chair Lynne Anderson and her directors, who swept to power at the last poll when they unseated the Ray Dib-led board.

Two of the four independent nominees - Peter McMahon and Anthony Elias - had previously sat on the board when Dib was chairman. Dib himself chose not to contest the elections.

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