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Eels' three-year plan to make Parramatta great again

The Parramatta Eels intend to break even, bring 40,000 members to the club, and re-establish their brand as one of the leading football clubs in the Australian sporting landscape.

The blueprint to do all this is a three-year strategic plan (2019-2021), which has already begun this season and that focuses on eight 'pillars': People and Culture, Football, Commercial, Memberships-Fans, Community, Communications-Media, Facilities-Infrastructure, Finance-Governance.

And while all that might sound like corporate mumbo jumbo, the nitty-gritty is real:

  • 40,000 members by 2021
  • A new $40 million Centre of Excellence within five years (four fields operational by November 1 this year for the 2020 pre-season)
  • Playing in the NRL finals every year
  • Having a Parramatta team in the NRLW as soon as possible (three clubs in the Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership – Mounties, Wentworthville, Guildford are in the club's catchment area)
  • Becoming the premier development club in the NRL
  • Having an Eels side in the Canterbury Cup (happening in 2020 season)

The Eels just passed the 25,000 membership milestone this week to create a club record.

The federal government has promised $15 million towards the Kellyville Park Centre of Excellence, which will bring the football and administrative offices together under the one roof. The state government is being pursued to match Canberra's $15 million.

Eels v Raiders - Round 15

Eels CEO Bernie Gurr and new chairman Sean McElduff admitted the club hit rock bottom in May 2016, when the NRL revealed salary cap breaches of $3 million over the previous three years.

Since July 2016 the club has rewritten its constitution and governance rules, has elected five independent directors and has become financially stable.

Something had to give since the club, between 2010 and 2016, had five head coaches, six CEOs and 25 directors come in and out of its doors.

But what the fans want to know is, when will the club break even? When will Parramatta add to their four premierships – the last 33 years ago?

"I'd be disappointed if it wasn't 2022," McElduff said on the question of getting back in the black.

The Eels lost $12 million in 2016, $10 million in 2017, $3.9 million in 2018 and the forecast for 2019 is between $4-4.5 million.

"Clearly are target is to break even; be sustainable. It's ludicrous to think we're happy losing $4 million a year," Gurr said. "We will get there and we need to get there."

As for a premiership, both Gurr and McElduff said "the core business of the club is winning football games".

"Of course we want to win premierships but for us it's about putting the right building blocks in place like well-being, roster management, that we know at the start of every year we are a chance of making the top four," McElduff said.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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