Share the love Adrian Proszenko | August 17, 2008 MANLY fans will soon have an opportunity to own a piece of their team following plans to list the club on the stock exchange. When co-owner Max Delmege first took control of the club he promised its fans they would one day get it back. Now, the multimillionaire businessman is ready to make good on his word with plans to list the Sea Eagles "within two to three years". "Manly belongs to the people, even though we are holding it in escrow at the moment," Delmege told The Sun-Herald. "The good part is that, at the end of the day, you can give it all back to the people. "That's what the Broncos have done by publicly listing - you can buy shares in your club. That's the way I would like to see it go. "When you become profitable, have a few other assets and list, all the members can have their shares back. I think that's important because the supporters would love to be part of it. "When we took over Manly we were suffering pretty dramatic losses - now we're just about line-balling. "I'd like to think in two or three years we'll have a structure which will work for all parties. "That would be a wonderful completion to it, wouldn't it?" Delmege, who has tipped more than $12 million into the Sea Eagles and has also bought the Leagues Club, believes more NRL clubs should look at privatisation. The property magnate believes both owners and investors stand to make financial gains in the long term. He predicted owners could expect a profit within three to four years, with the ventures capable of being "extremely profitable" in 10. "As a long-term investment, if we go down the shareholder route, I believe it could be quite profitable for the shareholders. If people thought you had the acumen to make this enterprise profitable, they'd buy whether they were supporters or not, but I'd think [Manly] supporters would be the first to buy in. "It would be like any publicly listed company. There would be a board of directors, but if the shareholders didn't like them they would throw them out." Despite concerns about the game's administrative structure and the on-and off-field challenges facing the NRL, Delmege believed there are opportunities for rugby league to move forward and to cement itself as Australia's dominant football code. The fanatical Manly fan outlined some of the initiatives he believed would improve the game, including: Lobbying the NRL to establish a rugby league-specific radio station; Expanding the competition to include more teams, starting with the Central Coast and Sunshine Coast; Encouraging teams and potential club owners to consider privatisation; Finding commercial uses for grounds, such as Brookvale Oval, outside of NRL games; Increasing the value of the next TV deal, then increase the salary cap; Increase merchandising sales/sponsorship through retail ventures; Running leagues clubs "more commercially" with such moves as converting auditoriums to office space. Delmege predicted other multimillionaires would be prepared to back NRL clubs if they were approached in the appropriate manner, pointing to the success of that model for overseas clubs and sports. "In general terms, most clubs would think it's the way to go," he said. "It's an option there, readily available. "Once all the rugby league clubs begin to privatise, that stigma will go away. I see a big, big future for rugby league. "You're going in because you love your club and want to see it run a bit better than it is now, but also there should be this thought at the back of your mind that with the right ingredients and the right mix, it can be profitable. "I got out of it more than I could have hoped for. For me, it's not a monetary thing." Since becoming an owner, Delmege has become involved in only one football matter - the retention of Michael Monaghan when Sea Eagles officials were attempting to offload him in 2005. However, he said that was likely to be a one-off and that owners should generally step back and let football officials get on with the job of running the club. It's a different approach to that of South Sydney, whose co-owners Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court were mentioned in the papers more often than the players during their first year at the helm. "Initially, [Souths] hasn't been that successful [post privatisation] because there's been a fair bit of controversy, but it's settled down now," Delmege observed. "You as a person on a board or throwing some money in, have to realise you're not a footballer or coach. You don't know who is a good or bad player. Leave that to the people who have those talents ... Do your bit [off the field]."