Russell Crowe and South Sydney should be commended. As advised by Shane Richardson and insiders at Souths, Crowe released a video urging true Souths fans to step up and support the club through membership and merchandise.
In true Crowe style, he was able to stir up the hornets nest in the video and score his NRL side valuable off-season newspaper coverage. Headlines that give the Rabbitohs a massive edge in the drive for sponsorships, memberships and season tickets.
Russell Crowe knows how to pull a headline and by mentioning the fact that Souths need to stand on their own feet, hinting at possible future reductions of his cash injections – he knew the critics and doomsayers would come running, giving the club the exposure it needed.
Naturally, vocal Souths man George Piggins couldn’t resist a swipe at Crowe and the new Souths officials. George Piggins has been waiting for nearly 2 years now for the new syndicate to fail; when things are going well for Souths you can never find George, or he doesn’t have much to say – but at the first hint of trouble, he rushes to hammer his successors in the medai.
Real Rabbitohs supporters will understand the smarts behind the method of this media release and the impressively growing team at the Bunnies. Already the possessing the largest membership base in the NRL, Souths are hungry for headlines and will no doubt benefit from this off-season membership drive – all from a free scoop.
In an address to the nation style setup, Crowe delivered his speech from a Hollywood mansion – sent out to all South Sydney football club members – Crowe asking fans to pitch in and financially support the Rabbitohs – in a video that was always going to stir up a news storm.
Saying he simply couldn’t pour money into the Souths forever, Crowe asked fans to dig deep, buy merchandise and continue their memberships. “I’ll tell you this. I won’t continue to put in the type of cash I’ve had to (put) into Souths, so far, forever,” Crowe said. “The business has to stand on its own feet.
“We have to be what we’ve always been.
Piggins was immediately on the attack after the release, saying Crowe’sÂ speech about reduced money into Souths brought an unwanted air of instability and uncertainty to the club. “Obviously he’s finding the football club is more of a financial drain than he expected,” Piggins said.
“I could have told him that. No one makes money from a football club.” roared Piggins.
Piggins said the potential unpredictability of Crowe’s acquiring of Souths always worried him. “I worried about what would happen if the novelty wore off,” he said. “If you let someone in with money to help your football club and they eventually walk away, you still have the football club. But if the new owners walk away I don’t know what will be left.”
While the bickering from the likes of George Piggins isn’t ideal as it divides Souths fans, it still scores headlines for the club – meanwhile, the club has improved out of sight in all aspects over the past 2 years. Now boasting the likes of Jason Taylor, John Lang and Gordon Tallis on the coaching staff – along with a respectable playing roster and much improved facilities – even the doomsaying of Piggins can’t hide the progress the old club has made in a few short years.
Crowe and offsider Peter Holmes a Court won a vote for control of Souths in 2006 after a long and bitter fightÂ with then club boss Piggins. Crowe did predict a possible premiership in 2008, but the club fell short of the semi’s after a stellar 2007 season.
The latestÂ message of progress from Crowe aims to unite the fans and see a possible increase in funds. Souths membership numbers while the most impressive in the NRL, need to reach an eventual target of 15,000 members, up from the current enrolment of 5855.
If this target could be reached, it would mean liquid injections of funds ultimately before the season had started – a dream come true for any football club. The off-season is harder for NRLÂ clubs as the regular gate takings remain on hold until the new year, just a few weeks ago Cronulla saw tough times as their liquidity ran dryÂ during the baron off-season months.
Boosting ticketed or season members will introduce a much needed guaranteed fund source for Souths and is a model all clubs should follow.
“We need 15,000 paid-up members, preferably season ticket holders, renewing year after year to keep us heading in the right direction, to fill the hole between major sponsors, an NRL grant and the true cost of doing business.” snapped Crowe in his video.
During the clip, Russell Crowe used the word “progress” as a repeated message. Saying Souths have made plenty of progress as a club despite dropping from 7th in 2007 to 14th in 2008. Crowe also confirmed that the newly redesigned Redfern Oval which is the club’s new training facility would be paid out on time with the aid of sponsors and funds from Crowes pocket. ”
Crowe also mentioned upcoming projects and large invoices, including one for gym equipment , then $50,000 or $60,000 for an interior work and fit-out costs at the new Redfern Oval, player labelled lockers and lockyer room ice baths,” Crowe said.
“Don’t worry about the costs. Between supportive sponsors and me we’ll get it done, this time.”
Have no fear Souths supporters,Â theseÂ headlines are ideal andÂ memberships should receive a boostÂ – and theres more positives to come, with Redfern Oval a sellout for a early season exhibition matchÂ and the newly refurbished Leagues club soon to open.