Max's Manly business ways Max's Manly business ways By STEPHEN DOWNIE Daily Telegraph April 23, 2005 WHEN Max Delmege's beloved Manly Sea Eagles rugby league team is behind on the scoreboard, the Sydney property developer has been known to sneak off and have a quiet word with the big boss ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ God. It pays to have friends in high places. Almost no one would have tipped Manly to be equal-first on the NRL ladder after six rounds of the competition. And if they keep winning, the team's major shareholder may not make it through the season. "I get a bit over-excited at a game and apparently my face goes bright red," Delmege told The Saturday Daily Telegraph. "Someone said to me, if we ever get into the grand final I'd have to watch it from the intensive care unit, it would be too much for me." Manly's on-field resurrection from a keen but, for the most part, under-experienced bunch of players into a ladder-topping side is due, in no small part, to the off-field presence of Delmege. While he certainly didn't do it on his own ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ one can't talk about the rebirth of Manly without mentioning chairman Joe Cross, executive director Paul Cummings and coach Des Hasler ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ at the end of the day, money talks. Had Delmege not stumped up the cash, Manly was, at best, three weeks away from almost certain collapse. So far, for the $8 million plus he's tipped in, Delmege has grabbed a 65 per cent stake in the club, a seat on the board, and, as major sponsor, he gets his company's name on the team's jumpers. But this was no vanity project for Delmege. He says the main reason he took on Manly was to save the club he loved. His philanthropy extends to sponsoring junior rugby league, which he has done for 30-odd years, and a 20-year involvement with Mona Vale surf club. "I have a simple philosophy ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Âœ when you go to the grave, your office blocks don't go with you, your cars don't go with you," he says. "If you can do some helping while you're here, do it." The survival plan, essentially a $6 million sponsorship, was hatched with former CEO Ian Thomson over lunch at D'Amici's, Mona Vale, on June 19, 2002. Delmege's intention was to hold the club in escrow until such time as it is making money and then pass ownership over to members by way of small parcels of shares. He'll never forget how he felt the match after he became involved in a big way, financially, with the club. "We won at Brookvale Oval [Manly's home ground] and I went back to the club and saw all those elderly people who had watched the game on the big screen and they were just so excited. "I remember going home and thinking to myself, how could you take that away from someone." Delmege has lived and breathed Manly for the past 40 years, moving to The Peninsula from Maroubra when he was 20. Delmege Commercial owns or manages more than $200 million worth of commercial property. And the business doesn't just invest in Northern Beaches real estate, with properties on the Gold Coast and in Melbourne, Liverpool and the Hunter Valley. After four years, Delmege says he is now seeing some financial benefits for his business from his involvement with Manly, with people involved in league looking to him for advice in purchasing commercial property. While league clubs have, historically, struggled to turn a profit, Delmege is confident Manly will be worth "a lot of money" in less than 10 years time. Do the benefits relate to how well the team does? He believes so. And he's not ashamed to say he thinks his financial injection into the club has given the team more confidence on field.