It’s the new $40 million headquarters Parramatta claim will be the biggest in the country, but just who will be their NRL head coach remains to be seen.
Just weeks after starting to play home matches in the new stadium built by the state government, the Eels have announced a $15 million bipartisan federal funding commitment for a new base at Kellyville in Sydney’s northwest.
The 5000 hectare site of the complex is almost half-an-hour away from Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta.
It will comprise four rugby league fields, an elite standard match venue and 1000-seat grandstand and a 5000-square metre “community facility” that includes a high performance centre for the Eels.
It’s expected to take up to five years to build but Eels officials hope to move their temporary training location at Old Saleyards to their new base for the start of the next pre-season in November.
Eels CEO Bernie Gurr defended the decision to move out of the heart of Parramatta.
“The reality is this is still a Parramatta district. We have a lot of junior league teams out here. A large number of our members reside in the Hills,” Gurr said.
Eels chairman Sean McElduff said the development was proof the club had finally had its management under control after years of instability.
“If you think back at the instability of the management between 2009 and 2016, they just got distracted and not focused on things they needed to do,” he said.
“In those years, we had five coaches, six CEOs and 25 board directors. In two-and-a-half years, we’ve had the same coach, CEO and board.”
But while the club spruik their designs for a new home, questions remain as to who will be the coach and captain when the move happens.
Coach Brad Arthur, skipper Clint Gutherson and star halfback Mitchell Moses all remain unsigned beyond the end of the season.
Gutherson will be given a Friday deadline by the club, according to NRL.com, to take or leave a three-year deal said to be worth close to $2 million. McElduff said the board remained committed to its June deadline for Arthur.
“We set that date to give Brad every opportunity to prove himself on the field because he didn’t get a home game until round six,” McElduff said.
“We designed it at the start to give him every opportunity and, so far, so good.
“A bit of misfortune on Saturday night (the embarrassing 64-10 loss to Melbourne), but we’re 5-4. We won six games last year.”
McElduff denied players – more than a dozen of their top 30 are without deals next year – were holding out due to uncertainty over the coach.
“That’s not the discussions we’ve been having with the player managers,” he said.
“If that was the case, player managers would’ve deferred the discussion until Brad was done.”