Sharks for hire: league’s corporate outcasts
The Sharks looking dejected during the round 25 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Cronulla Sharks. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan
The Cronulla Sharks’ wheelers and dealers spent the off-season scouting for personnel in the wrong positions.
While they performed admirably in their first grade recruitment drive, adding two star Tigers and a pair of Panthers to the bulk of their finals roster from last year, it was the Sharks’ front office which needed a boost.
More than anyone, they desperately needed to sign up a marketing guru, one who could and would sell the Cronulla Sharks brand to a willing backer, or backers.
In this day and age, it beggars belief that any NRL club, let alone an outfit freely tipped to achieve big things in 2013, could find itself without a major jumper or sleeve sponsor along with a company tipping in cash for ground naming rights.
But that’s Cronulla’s sorry predicament and there does not seem to be a magic wand solution in the near future.
“It’s a really tough market at the moment,” Patrick Woods (Sharks General Manager of Commercial Operations and Marketing) told the Sun Herald.
Sure, Mr Woods, but just about every major sporting organisation in the nation is comfortably in bed with a major sponsor, with some so rich with benefactors there is little room left on their playing strips, shorts and socks.
I read where Cronulla has – apart from Patrick Woods – a marketing and brand manager, a community engagement and social planning officer, a sponsor servicing manager and a commercial co-ordinator.
Sounds great, but one is entitled to ask: What have these guys been doing in the off-season? Catching waves off the Cronulla point? Improving their tans? Navel gazing?
The club had a long-running sponsor (Toyota) in place as naming rights sponsor for its ground but lost the motor car giant’s support when they upped the ante.
“They (Toyota) wanted to maintain it (the sponsorship) at the current level,” explained Wood. “We simply can’t sustain that.”
I don’t intimately know the machinations of Cronulla’s administration but suspect they could have tried a little harder, even if they have only been in their jobs for a handful of months.
There are plenty of great vibes about Shane Flanagan and his team for 2013 but the club’s off-field team looks to have dropped the ball before the season begins.
It looks a very talented but expensive team to me and sponsorship money would come in handy when the time comes to pay the wages.
As I see it, sponsors should be knocking down the doors to align themselves with the Sharkies as they sharpen their teeth for what could be an historic, title-winning year.
Instead the Cronulla club, which owns its own home ground and recently announced a super-duper redevelopment of its Caringbah complex, could begin the 2013 campaign as league’s corporate outcasts.
Is there anyone out there who would be interested in lending their name to a potential premiership-winning team for a reasonable spend?
Hang on, that’s not my job.
But that’s kind of how you do it, all of you Cronulla marketing types, pony-tails and suits.
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