QUANTUM boss Phil Sidney is prepared to buy out Scott Penn's stake in Manly should the besieged chairman make good on his threat to walk out on the premiers.
As revealed in the Herald during the week, Penn was asked to stand down after a fiery board meeting on Wednesday night. While the club co-owner refused to do so, his future remains unclear after he was was stripped of his position as board spokesman, a role which now belongs to fellow co-owner Sidney.
Penn told the Herald yesterday that his family would consider ending its association with the Sea Eagles if the boardroom battles continued. Ironically, the Penn family had previously attempted, unsuccessfully, to buy out Quantum's shareholding. In his first interview since the dramas erupted, Sidney yesterday revealed his company was prepared to fill the breach should the Penn family want out.
''If they were to walk away then yes, we would be willing to come in and help,'' Sidney told The Sun-Herald. ''We would, in collaboration with the other stakeholders including the district and leagues clubs, definitely continue. I don't think the club would suffer. We would be more than willing to come assist the club.
''It's not about us coming in to take control. If that situation were to occur, I'm sure we'll come to a new agreement with all parties to have an amicable relationship going forward.''
Sidney said the Penn family's refusal to co-operate with other stakeholders prompted directors to act at the board meeting. He added that he was confused after Penn said in yesterday's Herald he was prepared to walk, while he told another newspaper - on the same day - he wouldn't budge.
''They find it very difficult to work with other parties,'' Sidney said. ''Their ultimate aim is control and almost everything they do is driven by that. Our view is that the chairman should work with everyone on the board to take the club forward. When you get to the stage where you aren't prepared to work with other board members - and you're not even prepared to talk to them - it's very hard for the board to work in the manner it should.
''And then one minute they're saying they want to pull out if they don't get their own way, while somewhere else they're saying they are in for the long haul. It's completely contradictory, they're all over the shop.''
Manly have enjoyed a sustained period of on-field success despite the bitter battle for control in the boardroom. Penn had previously fallen out with another co-owner, Max Delmege, who went on to sell off his shares to Quantum.
''Unfortunately, the Penn family want sole control of Manly and want to shut out the supporters and the people who made the club what it is today,'' Delmege said.
Penn told The Sun-Herald he was disappointed that he was ''blindsided'' at the board meeting and that his main concern was that shareholding didn't reflect board seats. The Penns, who own between 50-51 per cent of the Sea Eagles, hold three of the seven board seats.
Figures produced late last year by the chief financial officer show that the Manly-Warringah Rugby League Football Club - often referred to as the district club - have pumped in $6.6 million to the organisation since the club was privatised in 2006. Penn's commitment is listed as being $2.6 million, although those figures would have changed slightly over the past six months.
''At the moment, one of the Penn directors is in the place of a leagues club director - and the leagues and district club have put in $6.6 million,'' Sidney said. ''They conveniently seem to forget this point. The problem with that is they don't want to consider the district club, which is made up of past players and fans.
''These people want to have a say in the running of the club, and so they should. If you don't include the supporters, you don't have a club. I don't think the Penn group see that as a necessity. They would like to see it privatised so they can have the majority shareholding and run the club as they wish.''
Sidney said Quantum was intent on increasing revenue streams, boosting the membership base and running Manly ''more like a business''.
''We acknowledge the contribution Scott has made but it's time to adopt a fresh approach going forward,'' Sidney said. ''Whether Scott stays as chairman or not, the board will move forward with that approach.''
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/owners-ready-to-battle-for-brookie-20120609-20340.html#ixzz1xLcxbv00