THERE is a push for Manly to appoint an independent chairman after a no-confidence motion was carried against Scott Penn.
As revealed in the Herald on Friday, Penn was asked to stand down after a fiery board meeting on Wednesday night. While the club co-owner refused, his future remains unclear after he was stripped of his position as board spokesperson, a role which now belongs to Quantum executive Phil Sydney.
Representatives of the third party in the club's ownership structure, the Manly-Warringah Rugby League Football Club - previously known as the district club - have drafted a position statement document outlining their preferred ownership structure. They believe the bitter battle for control of the club could be avoided by reverting back to an independent chair, a position last held by Joe Cross in February 2008.
''When Scott Penn became chairman, at that stage he and [then co-owner] Max [Delmege] were both equal shareholders,'' MWRLFC secretary Phil Dean explained. ''A lot of the dramas stemmed from the fact that Max owned half the business - the same as Scott - yet Scott had that greater ability to influence the organisation through his role of chairman. Whether it's real or not, it creates that perception of disadvantage of one shareholder against another. If there's an independent chairman, no one shareholder will feel they are disadvantaged … and management can stay out of any politics.''
Penn, who owns a 50-51 per cent majority shareholding, has demanded that board representation better reflect shareholding.
However, Dean said the MWRLFC had been given board seats to protect the rights of members - and that Penn knew the deal when he bought in.
''The right of the football club to appoint two directors is part of the preference share,'' he said. ''That's fundamentally part of the problem with the Penns - they're trying to whittle down our preference share rights. That's something that will never happen. If we concede on directorships, then what's next? Our home ground location? All the private shareholders bought in knowing that was the deal. It's a bit rich to try to change it now. He might not like it, but it's the way it is.''
Dean added the key to stability and prosperity was to welcome additional owners rather than concentrating control.
''We don't want to be in a situation like [Nathan] Tinkler or Michael Searle where there is just one private owner,'' he said. ''We see that as a long-term risk for the Sea Eagles, so the more private owners the better. Our preference is to have multiple owners, that they all be equal, that they all have equal representation on the board and ideally they would all be completely independent of each other.
''As soon as you have one with a higher shareholding or board representation, that creates a tension between them.''
Despite years of boardroom battles, the Sea Eagles continue to be a finals mainstay and have won two of the previous four premierships. They sit in fifth position in a strong defence of their premiership.
''All the other clubs must sit there and think, 'What's going to happen when these guys get their act together','' Dean said.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/peace-in-sea-eagles-boardroom-may-rest-on-independent-chair-20120609-202rm.html#ixzz1xNdg84fw