Pierce 'untouchable' as Sharks chairman - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pierce 'untouchable' as Sharks chairman

21/05/2009 05:32:37 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla chairman Barry Pierce will be re-elected unopposed with the NRL and Sharks members powerless to force any major change at the embattled club.

Pierce's position has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks with his role in the cover up of a sex scandal in 2002 and the Sharks' dire financial position fuelling calls for him to stand down.

The club plunged into another crisis on Thursday with major sponsor LG Electronics announcing they would not continue their $700,000 a year agreement, while an accidental punch by CEO Tony Zappia on a former female employee last year was revealed to have cost the club $20,000.

NRL chief executive David Gallop has demanded a face-to-face meeting with the entire board to confront their poor management.

Gallop said the NRL has no power to dissolve the board or to call for resignations, but he wants answers about how the club has failed to deal with behavioural issues.

"Certainly that board has got some tough issues to face up to. That is why I want to get down and get in front of them and hear what they've got to say," said Gallop.

"There's details of it (Zappia's incident) that weren't disclosed at the time and we feel that it's appropriate that they give us a report into that and the other allegations that are made against the club by midday tomorrow (Friday).

"(It has) not necessarily reached the point where we need to be calling for that sort of action (resignations) but we do need to be seeing what their plans are for dealing with their issues."

Cronulla Leagues Club general manager Michael Wilkins confirmed no board members or election nominees can stand down now as voting starts on Friday and runs through to Wednesday.

"Calls for directors to resign would be in violation of the election process and therefore in violation of the club constitution," said Wilkins.

Club sponsor Damian Irvine, of Skin Deep clothing, is one of just three outsiders running against the eight incumbents.

He nominated because he feared the club would die within 12 months due to financial mismanagement.

He wants the club to become more proactive by building a proper business plan in the short and long term, but says change will be difficult as nobody is challenging Pierce's chairmanship.

"There's a lot of people saying that (Pierce should go) but the fact is he is unopposed in this election," said Irvine.

"It's very hard to throw someone out without a valid replacement.

"If membership wants a big change (to the board) then they are restricted in what they can do. They can only put three new people in."

He says the "skeletons" that have come out of Cronulla's closet in recent times will allow the club a fresh start when the elected board is announced at the annual general meeting next Thursday.

"It's probably beneficial that all these skeletons have come out now," he said.

"This election is the start for the Sharks. It allows the place to clean out the skeletons and start afresh.

"I'm pretty positive. I don't think it's the end ... in six or eight years we will be dominant again."

Irvine says the only thing that could make Cronulla's situation worse would be for CEO Zappia to depart.

Zappia has been linked with Parramatta and Manly, but Irvine is adamant the current boss and coach Ricky Stuart are the only men that can save the Sharks.

"If anything can get worse at our club that is one thing that would sink our club. He is a very good operator and the future of the club lies with him and Ricky Stuart."

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