Eels chairman proposes radical reform

They are the extraordinary governance reforms Parramatta hope will finally usher in a new era.

Eels chairman Max Donnelly on Wednesday took a major step towards a fresh start for the club when he proposed an extraordinary ban on all former directors being voted onto the new board.

In an attempt to avoid the endless bickering at administration level that sensationally brought the Eels to their knees in 2016, Donnelly also proposed all new board members pass a skills-based criteria never before mandated in the club’s history.

“I want a clean slate,” Donnelly told AAP on Wednesday.

“For most clubs, the criteria is how many years of membership have you got to make you eligible to be on the board.

“All those old club constitutions were drawn up in a way to stop people turning up today and trying to take over the club tomorrow because they would’ve had to be a member for three years.

“But in this day and age, we’ve moved on.”

In other words, it will take more than knowing how to throw a spiral pass or a kick a torpedo bomb if you are to tick off on the murky world of third party deals and contract extensions.

“That was part of the problem,” Donnelly said.

“A lot of people that got onto the board, they’re not used to running a company. Footballers are wonderful footballers, but not many of them can run a business because they’re not trained to.”

While two of the seven board members will be nominated by Parramatta Leagues Club, five will come external to the franchise and from business-centred backgrounds.

Donnelly said it is a set-up not far removed from the likes of Newcastle, Wests Tigers and Gold Coast, all of whom have had to be rescued by the NRL in recent seasons.

Members have until November 4 to provide feedback.

“It’s the way of the future. You need a skills-based board. That’s what I’m trying to achieve,” he said.

“I’ve also said that if you’d been a director in the past, you can’t be a director again going forward, which is to try and stop all the old factions.

“People might turn around and say that’s silly, or unfair or wrong, well okay, that’s why I have a consultation process, and I’ll listen to what everyone says to me.”

The NRL is understood to have given Donnelly the green light, despite a request to veto any future changes to the club’s constitution.

“I resisted that, I didn’t think the members of Parramatta would like that,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly also revealed on Wednesday that the club’s protracted contract saga with Will Hopoate had come to an end after settling the dispute last week.

In another sign of the Eels pushing into a new era, Donnelly said the club is likely to search for a new major sponsor once its deal with Dyldam expires at the end of the month.

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