Manly returns to millionaires' row Brent Read and Dan Koch | September 27, 2007 http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22488439-2722,00.html MANLY officials continue to distance themselves from the silvertails tag but their task is becoming increasingly difficult, with the club set to reap a $900,000 windfall from playing in Sunday night's grand final. Thanks to their appearance in the title decider, the Sea Eagles are on the verge completing their transformation from financial basketcase to NRL powerhouse by returning a profit for the first time since they returned to the NRL as a sole entity in 2003. And the good news continued yesterday when Manly agreed in principle to a lucrative sponsorship deal with airline Viva Macau, which will come into effect from next season. Four years ago, when the club picked up the pieces from the failed marriage with North Sydney, the Sea Eagles survived on annual revenue of $6.5million. That figure is now nearly double. The club originally budgeted to have revenue of $11.1m this year, with a loss of $200,000. However, the grand final appearance has blown those projections out of the water. Once the bonuses from Sunday night's game are included, Manly's revenue could exceed $11.5m. "The club concentrated on building a football team," Manly chief executive Grant Mayer said yesterday of the reformation. "That was the total and utter focus of the board of directors and the coach, knowing that would reap benefits in the front office." The rising stock of the club has been reflected in the value of its jersey. Four years ago, it carried sponsorship worth $1.8m. In 2007, that figure has doubled to $3.6m. The coffers are set to bulge in the wake of a grand final appearance, given the spin-offs that follow. Should the Sea Eagles beat Melbourne, they will receive $400,000 prizemoney, sponsorship bonuses of $120,000 and an invitation to the World Club Challenge, which could result in $125,000 prizemoney. Merchandise sales have also skyrocketed. "The value you can't put on it is the goodwill and the spin-offs for 2008," Mayer said. "For the last five years they have sold an underperforming team. All of a sudden, by making the grand final, there is an expectation that we will be strong next year. "There's an expectation that finals will come and we're a side that's going to be one of the best in the competition next year." Co-owner Max Delmege, whose decision to buy a share in the club saved it from financial ruin, said he was shocked that the club was playing in the grand final. "I have to admit, to be where we are now, heading into a grand final, it's unexpected," Delmege said. "I certainly didn't expect us to be in the position we are in at the moment, on and off the field, so early. It's a wonderful effort by so many people and I am just thrilled to have played some part in it." Asked about the strength of the club, Delmege claimed there were no egos at Manly. "From the chief executive, to the coach, to the players and certainly the fans, everyone has played a role in getting us here," he said. "I have to admit we have had our share of luck as well. "But there has been a lot of hard work by a lot of people and it is just fantastic to see the way it has paid off. "I think we have created a really strong culture at the club and, again, I think Des (Hasler) has to take a lot of credit for that." Mayer and other officials are also pressing the federal and state Governments for $15m in funding to develop Brookvale Oval, a move that could result in further revenue streams. If that deal comes off, Manly would once again be regarded as one of the game's most affluent clubs. Just don't call them silvertails. "We're just all battlers from the northern beaches," Mayer said.