Following a tumultuous 2016 NRL season, the Parramatta Eels announced businessman and former Sydney Roosters boss Bernie Gurr as their new Chief Executive Officer.
As a result of circumventing the salary cap and trying to cover it up, the former board was dissolved and replaced by administrator Max Donnelly.
Gurr is an experienced campaigner but even Parramatta was seen to be a test for him. The club has a history of severe boardroom instability and has burnt through five CEOs in seven years.
So far Gurr has hardly put a foot wrong. He’s been in the media regularly spruiking the club in order to attract a main sponsor after the Eels parted ways with Dyldam last year.
However the biggest positive comes in the way Gurr and the club has been communicating with its members. As a member myself I have often been critical of the way the club has conducted its communications.
When Steve Sharp was the chairman he was in the media more than the CEO. Communications with members often left a lot to be desired as messaging sometimes came across as lazy or as an afterthought.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in both their 2015 and 2016 seasons when updates on the club’s constitutional reform and the dissolving of the board was not forthcoming.
With Gurr as CEO members now receive regular updates via e-mail. All changes in governance are explained clearly, announcements regarding players are prompt and it’s clear he has outlined a core set of values which he intends to uphold throughout his tenure.
So much of good communications practice is having an open dialogue with your stakeholders.
In today’s day and age businesses need to be open to feedback from their stakeholders and show they are willing to change when required.
Two way symmetrical communication builds a healthy rapport between business and their stakeholders and demonstrates that a business has their stakeholders’ interests at heart.
When it comes to rugby league and sport in general it’s even more important for clubs to demonstrate respect for their stakeholders because at the end of the day, without those stakeholders there is no game.
Should Gurr continue with these regular communications he will position Parramatta as one of the best sporting organisations in Australia when it comes to the treatment of their members and stakeholders.