South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson says there is no prospect of the Rabbitohs relocating, despite Russell Crowe’s decision to offload his 37.5 per cent stake in the NRL club.
The Hollywood superstar is putting his shares up for sale due to family reasons, prompting claims from former patriarch George Piggins that the club could be shifted to Perth or the NSW central coast.
In front of a large media contingent at Redfern Oval on Monday, Richardson hosed down the possibility of moving, saying the club was in the best shape in its long history, and roots would always be in Sydney.
“I guarantee it, iron-flag – it’s not even a question. If it happened, Shane Richardson wouldn’t be here,” he said.
“We have more almost 25,000 paid-up members, made a six-figure profit this year and will make a seven-figure profit next year.
“Russell will still be involved in the club, he will still be ringing me up and trying to tell me who we should sign and what ideas we should be implementing.
“But family comes first – anyone with kids will tell you that.”
The actor took to Twitter on Monday, declaring: “South Sydney FC in a great place. Money in the bank, long term contracts with star players, excellent coach. Don’t listen to panic merchants.”
However, his move to sell raised fresh concern from Piggins, who was a fierce opponent of Crowe’s and businessman Peter Holmes a Court’s successful takeover bid in 2006.
“I think the fans must be very concerned about where the club goes now, and those who voted for the takeover must be very concerned too,” Piggins told AAP.
“This is exactly what worried me most about the whole thing … the fans will be feeling cheated.”
Souths’ chairman Nick Pappas said any new major shareholder would need to be ratified by club members before any sale could be agreed.
Pappas said it was up to Crowe to find someone to sell his stake to. But he was unable to offer any specific figure on how much the Oscar winner could expect to make, but any transaction would need approval from the members.
“The club is not up for sale, but Russell has indicated it’s his intention to dispose of his interest,” Pappas said.
“The members would have the right to veto any move.”
Pappas added that co-owner Peter Holmes a Court was still considering what to do with his 37.5 per cent share of Souths.
Crowe and Holmes a Court bought 75 per cent of the club in 2006.
“I really can’t speculate about Peter’s role. We will wait and see what Peter’s decision is. It’s his decision alone,” he said.