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Sharks appoint new chairman

01/07/2009 07:55:33 PM Comments (0)

His first day on the job was marked by another off-field drama, but new Cronulla chairman Damian Irvine has vowed to haul the Sharks out of the 1970s.

As staff were finishing a press release confirming the sacking of half Brett Seymour after a spate of alcohol-related incidents, businessman Irvine was explaining why it was time to be more than an armchair critic.

"This (land) development (proposal's) been on the cards for eight to 10 years and we've failed to progress at all with soil turning," he told AAP on Wednesday.

"We've also financially, and from a marketing point of view, declined in the last decade from where we were.

"We've sacked two coaches with massive payouts in that period of time.

"I've sat back and I would get frustrated along with a lot of other people.

"I thought I can sit back and be that critic ... or I get can in and have a go."

The club has endured a series of off-field incidents, including the Matthew Johns sex scandal and a female employee's black eye which led to the resignation of former CEO Tony Zappia, as well as a reported $12 million debt.

Asked who was to blame, Irvine said: "I probably blame familiarity.

"There's certainly been no lack of intent and care and love of the joint but I think the club, as are a lot of clubs, is still running on a structure that was successful or built for whatever reason in the `70s.

"The type of people ... and their experience and the balance of the board was pretty uneven with very similar people with similar skill sets.

" ... We haven't modernised as well and as quickly as we should have."

Irvine, who replaced long-serving chairman Barry Pierce, said he would set about overhauling the club's culture in a similar way to the Bulldogs' resurrection in 2009.

He said he had approached several women, including prominent sponsor Madeline Tynan, about the possibility of replacing Pierce on the Sharks board.

"We accept that the club has made errors, that we have erred and we have let people down," he said.

And Irvine said he was not assuming the multi-million dollar proposal to develop land adjacent to Shark Park, seen by the previous regime as the club's potential saviour, would be approved by council in August.

"We're unique to have that development opportunity but that aside we need to ... increase revenue streams outside of just regular, old fashioned football club revenue streams," he said.

"Some very basic principles have probably been let slide there over the last two or three years.

"We have a hangover like a lot of league clubs of laziness where the big (leagues club) grant has always been there and that's not going to be there in the future."

Asked if he could guarantee the Sharks, who mooted a partial relocation to Gosford under Zappia, would play out of Cronulla long-term, he said: "After what we've been through the last eight weeks I would be very loathe to guarantee anything of what the lay of the land may be next week."

Irvine's first priority will be to "win back the trust in our brand".

Then, an elusive first premiership.

"We've got to build a platform first," he said.

"It could be a year, it could be five depending on the bounce of the ball."

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