Crowe pitches Souths plan to fans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Crowe pitches Souths plan to fans

By Adrian Proszenko 12/02/2006 06:48:21 PM Comments (0)

It was about 45 minutes into Peter Holmes a Court's first public address to South Sydney fans when a familiar face at the back of the room offered to field a curly question directed at the multi-millionaire businessman.

In a scene that looked as staged as any movie set, Oscar-winner Russell Crowe grabbed the microphone and spoke passionately about the importance of fans and administrators uniting to ensure the survival of the troubled NRL club.

For the previous three-quarters of an hour, Holmes a Court had tried to allay fans' concerns about a number of issues, including the location, funding and ownership of the Rabbitohs under his and partner Crowe's privatisation proposal.

And then the campaign began in earnest as Crowe, dressed in a white New Jersey bomber jacket and black shorts, started the process of winning over the 75 per cent of votes he needs from South Sydney members to allow the bid to go ahead.

Holmes a Court had cleared the first obstacle earlier in the week by convincing the board to pass the proposal onto the members, but it was Crowe's star power which was the trump card when the duo addressed supporters at Sunday's fan day at Telstra Stadium.

After slipping unnoticed into the back of the Telstra gold members' dining room 10 minutes earlier, the Gladiator star was given the microphone.

He was met with enthusiastic applause after speaking of the need to bury past differences in order for the club to move forward.

"It's been said that the club has survived for so long without Peter and Russell's help and it can continue to keep going - that's just wrong folks," Crowe said of his injection of $126,000 last year, which went predominantly into the fostering of up-and-coming players at the club.

"We had to make sure that we had a balance sheet to present to the NRL ... My attitude is that if I am going to pay for it I'm going to have a say in how it's run."

In a polished public relations exercise, which was well received by fans, Holmes a Court said he hoped his proposal would end a culture of "factional infighting" and "boardroom tussles".

"We are not here to win the war, we are here to win the peace," he declared.

Souths chairman Nicholas Pappas implored members to get behind the bid.

"There wouldn't be too many clubs in the world that would be knocking back this opportunity," he told AAP.

"One of the important things that has troubled me is that members have no say other than having the right to depose the board annually.

"They have no say as to what the board does in terms of logo, colours or where they play.

"We are taking this privatisation, although I prefer to think of it as an investment, as an opportunity to enshrine these values once and for all.

"Once and for all Souths will be based and entrenched in Sydney.

"I can advocate this because I don't stand to benefit from it.

"These people bring some huge corporate opportunities."

Pappas said fans had to realise the high-powered duo brought more to the club than just a $3 million cash injection.

"I think once these people understand the $3 million price tag that's been talked about has imposed some very serious restrictions as to what they can do with the club, they'll see that's a very reasonable price tag from a member's point of view.

"They will see some of the corporate opportunities that Russell and Peter bring will be so significant and so important.

"They need to factor that into the price."

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