Broncos CEO Paul White says that membership is at the core of the organisation's business plan, with a target of 30,000 members in 2014. Credit: Col Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos
Ahead of the final Queensland derby of the regular season, Chief Queensland Correspondent Tony Webeck sat down with Broncos CEO Paul White to discuss star signings, recruitment strategy and why Friday night games aren't as beneficial as many people think.
Q. Was it nice to hear Anthony Milford reaffirm his commitment to join the club in 2015 earlier this week?
A. In our mind and having met Anthony and spoken to his manager and his family we believed that the contract was always going to be honoured. Obviously there was continually ongoing speculation which is probably not great noise but is probably the nature of the game today. He's obviously spoken directly to Canberra and reaffirmed that commitment so it was nice to get that out of the way and have clarity for ourselves but also from Canberra's point of view.
Q. Had he reaffirmed that commitment to you over the past couple of months?
A. We deliberately didn't beat a path to his door or in this case the mobile phone because we're in the midst of a season, he's got commitments to his club and we absolutely respect that and had minimal if any contact over the first eight to nine weeks of the competition. I'm not privy to what happened down there but essentially I believe he reaffirmed his commitment to us to his club and allowed the Raiders to be able to make that announcement. We didn't make any further announcements or quotes about it and we won't until he starts training with us at the start of pre-season at the end of this year.
Q. How close was he to being a Bronco in 2014?
A. We obviously we're hopeful and were aware that there was some provisions in his contract to give him that option but we also respected the process. In working with himself and his manager the decision was made for him to see out his contract with Canberra and once he'd made that decision we respected that and I think long-term Anthony will grow out of this process. He remained committed to the deal that he'd struck and he'll see that out and he also remained committed to the deal that he'd struck with us and he'll join our cub, and I think that's a good thing.BRONCOS CEO PAUL WHITE Q&A PART II
Q. There were a lot of new faces introduced at the end of the 2013 season to the playing roster, did the philosophy regarding recruitment change?
A. There's nothing constant with a recruiting strategy. You can have a framework, which is important, and ours is very much that we're a development club. We're unashamedly about developing our own and bringing them through our system and we see that as giving us a lot of long-term security but we will add to our current roster when we see the need or the opportunity arises. The philosophy, like every club, is that we want to win competitions and to win competitions you've got to play semi-finals and a top four finish gives you a better chance of winning a competition. If your ambition is to be a premiership-winning side your philosophy has always got to be about, 'Have we got what we need and if not where do we need to add?' I think you've constantly got to be adding to your roster at the various streams, be that the second tier and also your top tier, and you've got to be nimble enough and efficient enough to be able to adjust if you believe the need arises.
Q. As an organisation, how do the Broncos measure success?
A. Three ways. We're a rugby league club and our ultimate goal will always be premiership success. At the start of every season that will always be our goal and that's the goal of another 15 clubs which is what makes the game so great. On-field success is certainly the ultimate measure of our success, we know that, but under-pinning that is commercial sustainability. The reason that is important is it allows you to reinvest in the other areas of the business when the need arises, whether that's with new people, new equipment or the new development we have proposed for here at Red Hill. The third target is membership success. We've got a membership culture within our organisation, it's the language of the business, we talk it and we are about very, very aggressively pursuing that goal of growing our membership to 30,000 this year. Our five-year target is very much aligned to Suncorp Stadium so driving ticketed membership and linking membership with growing crowds at Suncorp, that's the key to us.
Q. So does the Friday night allocation everyone thinks you've got stitched up help or hinder membership?
A. Why does everyone think we've got it stitched up? We understand we're a Friday night team and the broadcaster's requirement on a whole is that we're a Friday night team, but that's not somehow dictated by my strategy here at this club. Like everyone else who participates in the game we're the beneficiaries of a vastly upgraded television rights deal and for that the broadcasters are entitled to gain the requirements they want, which includes us playing Friday nights. I understand that other clubs would like to be given more Friday night games and we certainly are on the record as saying we would like some more Sunday afternoon games, and to that end, some more Saturday night games. My members, the members of this club, expect me to fight hard for those. We've got a Sunday game coming up against Manly which will be terrific for us, we've got a Saturday night game against the Warriors later in the year – and a lot of junior sport is played on a Saturday morning and even on a Friday night – so a Saturday night game will be a good opportunity for us to promote a different event. In my perfect world, I'd like a little bit more variety to give a different offering to our members.