SOUTH SYDNEY part-owner Russell Crowe believes the time has arrived for the "business to stand on its own", revealing to members he will no longer pour cash into his beloved Bunnies.
At the request of club CEO Shane Richardson and chairman Nick Pappas, Crowe sent a six-minute, emailed video message to each Souths member, speaking about the club and progress, but during the message he admits he "won’t continue to put in the type of cash I’ve had to, forever".
"I’m always going to be a Souths’ boy, that won’t change," he says. "Next week someone will have to find a couple of hundred grand for gym equipment, 50 or 60 [thousand] more for interior fit-out costs at Redfern [Oval], individual named lockers, ice baths built in, inspirational things, huge photographs, boards with every player from every premiership we’ve ever won, team photos from every year we have on record, inspirational things the players will benefit from, and an atmosphere which brings them inside 100 years of history.
"Now don’t worry about the bill, between generous sponsors and myself, we’ll get it done this time. I will tell you this, though, I won’t continue to put the type of cash I’ve had to into Souths so far, forever. The business has to begin to stand on its own. Be quite sure that is not an emotional issue for me, it is what it is."
Richardson said yesterday the message was not about Crowe slowing or stopping his funding, it was about progress, and that meant building membership and making the club self-sufficient. "Membership is the most important thing to clubs," Richardson said. "We’re the largest ticketed member club of all the Sydney clubs. Last year we had 6700, this year we’re already over the 6000 mark and we want to get to 8000 [next season] and eventually 15,000. All Russell is doing is coming out on the video and explaining the importance of membership and being involved with the club. It was not a media release or put on the website, it’s put directly to the members.
"We’re projecting to break square next year and membership is a crucial part of that. And I don’t think the members see this as doom and gloom, Russell is not putting cash in, I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from the members.
"He’s being honest about his backing for the club, honest about how he sees the club progressing. He’s only done this with our prompting. I don’t think there is any problem stating the bleeding obvious, you’re not going to keep pouring money down the tube if people aren’t going to get behind the club …
"I make no apologies. I think Russell is right in what he says … I don’t want Russell to put more money in, I want us to stand on our own two feet because the day that we do, we are a genuine premiership threat."