Should I be surprised Delmeges view WASN'T shown on the site? Delmege a Sea Eagle for life By James Hooper February 15, 2009 12:00am MAX Delmege is sitting in one of Sydney's most exclusive restaurants having lunch with his great mate Benny Elias. Laughing, joking, drinking. The property tycoon, whose estimated wealth is well over $200million, is supposedly broke. If only we could all be this unfortunate. In his right hand he swirls a glass of pinot grigio and orders the lobster. With his left hand he flashes The Sunday Telegraph a bank cheque for $500,000. This is the world of the charismatic Manly co-owner who carried the Sea Eagles from the rugby league scrapheap to 2008 premiers. But all is not well at Brookvale, with Sea Eagles co-owner Scott Penn making a power play to squeeze an unpaid $228,000 out of Delmege. Forget the fact he has pumped $15million into the club over the past eight years. Sitting in the swish city noshery Uccello, at Justin Hemmes' plush Ivy establishment, Delmege's phone doesn't stop ringing. Every reporter in town wants to know who is telling the truth. If Delmege was playing poker, you wouldn't call his bluff. One thing's for certain, this is a dirty game of cards. And make no mistake, it will end in blood. Judging by last Thursday night's boardroom brawl, Delmege has the numbers to survive. But his opponents - Scott and father Rick Penn, and Penn's uncle, Peter `Zorba' Peters - are coming on heavy. To try to get to the bottom of the standoff, The Sunday Telegraph offered to take Delmege to lunch. He wanted to pay - we insisted. For the record, Delmege said he is going nowhere. "No, I'm not broke. It's laughable. The fact I haven't paid a bill we incurred when we won the premiership is an accidental oversight,'' Delmege said. "I'm at Manly until the day I die. I'm disappointed our laundry is being aired in public and it certainly wasn't my decision. "I'll fix the problem next week. Then going forward, Manly will continue to prosper. I'm all about the people - the Sea Eagles supporters - not my pocket. "For me, it's never been about money. If it was, why would I have put $15million into the place? It's not about making a profit, it's about Manly being successful. "I can assure you this, I'm at Manly for the long haul and when I go, I want my boys to take over. I want the Delmege name associated with the Sea Eagles for life, and considering I'm engaged in a $250million development in North Sydney, I think I'm on track.'' Pull up a seat, grab a knife, protect yourself. This is the scenario inside the northern peninsula board room. At last Thursday night's board meeting, Manly chief executive Grant Mayer chose to resign. The reason? Delmege had the numbers 5-2. Still does. Mayer has attempted to play peace maker by talking regularly with Manly Leagues club chairman Bob Riley. So far the olive branch has been rejected. The Penn's remain disappointed a $15million joint venture proposal with Delmege to redevelop Manly Leagues club has fallen through. Conspiracy theory 1 Privately, some Manly insiders remain concerned Penn and father Rick may try to move the Sea Eagles to the Central Coast. Two years ago, the names Central Coast Eagles and Sunshine Coast Eagles were registered as internet names. The Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles was formed as a Queensland Cup side, where Manly can send fringe NRL players. The Central Coast name remains shrouded in mystery. Departing chief executive Mayer is adamant Manly will never move from the northern beaches. "There is absolutely no way we will ever move to the Central Coast. "The state and local governments have recently committed $10million to upgrading Brookvale Oval. We're going nowhere,'' Mayer said. Conspiracy theory 2 After guiding the Sea Eagles to a grand final and then a premiership, coach Des Hasler should be signed for as long as he likes. Hasler's contract was the subject of debate for an hour at last Thursday's meeting. Incredibly, some directors only wanted to offer Hasler a one-year extension until the end of 2011. They argued Hasler needed key performance indicators written into his new deal. They want clauses so they can push him if things go south. It underlines the boardroom differences - and there's potentially more blood to come. Respected media manager Zorba Peters is in the cross hairs. Peters is Scott Penn's uncle. The Delmege clan perceive Peters to be too far aligned with his family. The Delmege clan want Kerry Sibraa to take the chair at the head of the table instead of Penn. But they need 75 per cent of the directors to punt Penn as chairman. At the moment the count is 5-2, making up a 72 per cent majority. So Penn will survive. "We didn't want this to become a slanging match and tried to keep it in-house for as long as we could,'' Penn said. Conspiracy theory 3 There is talk Delmege wants Elias to take over from Mayer as chief executive. The champion Tigers hooker spat out his drink at the suggestion. "I'm a Balmain boy through and through and I'll always be a Balmain boy. No. No way,'' Elias said. Elias and Delmege do property deals together, not football. They are great friends. It was evident last Friday as they sat sipping white wine, laughing and enjoying each other's company. By 4pm, Elias had to go back to work for another meeting. Delmege, proudly wearing a Manly directors premiership ring, was still making good company. He rang his driver and asked him to be out front on George St at 7pm, then stayed until 7.30pm. Talk about a good lunch. What won't be so easy is the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring going on around the northern peninsula over the next month. This is personal, and the battle of Brookvale has only just begun.