Penrith Panthers CEO Corey Payne has parted ways with the club in a move that has come completely out of the blue. Payne was only appointed to the role in April. He barely had enough time to unpack his belongings in his office before he has to pack it all up again!
On cue, Panthers General Manager Phil Gould quit Twitter…
It makes you wonder what the hell is going on at the Panthers behind the scenes. Payne was touted as a future leader of the club for a long time. The 32 year old is well regarded in Rugby League circles and this seemed to be the career pathway he had his sights set on for some time.
When Payne was appointed a lot of people asked what I thought about him. I always talk about the poor record of people who use to be former footballers who end up running clubs. Just take a look at how Newcastle is going under Matthew Gidley right now.
The thing is, with Payne, I was willing to give him a chance. He certainly seemed to interact with supporters well, and made a real effort to get out into the community, meet with local leaders in Panthers, and represent the club well.
When he stood up for Western Sydney Rugby League supporters after being snubbed completely by World Cup supporters, I was really impressed. He copped abuse from the person in charge of the World Cup, and as a result that person was forced to resign.
The thing I liked about Payne, he wasn’t just willing to bold statements…he was willing to listen. He also didn’t take criticism of the teams performance personally. He seemed to realise that Panthers supporters have been through a lot over the last decade, and he said he was going to do everything he could to turn things around.
I don’t believe Payne would have left the club on a whim. It just doesn’t seem in character for him. That makes me question why he left.
When you look at the Panthers last 12 months, it has been pretty crazy 12 months.
In September 2015 the then CEO of the Penrith Panthers NRL Justin Pascoe left the club after just over a year in the role to take up the CEO job at the Wests Tigers. In 2016 February the head of the Panthers group, Warren Wilson, resigned his post citing personal reasons. In April 2016 Payne was announced as the CEO of the Penrith Panthers NRL club.
Add to that the decision to replace Ivan Cleary as coach of the club with Anthonmy Griffin, the decision to allow Ben Garcia, Chris Smith, Elijah Taylor, James Segeyaro and Jamie Soward mid season, and the extremely strange acquisition of Zak Hardaker, a fullback for the Leeds Rhinos, to play in the centers for the Panthers, off the bench.
Does that sound like a club lacking direction and with way too much upheaval or what?
In these situations I always like to look at who is left. I call it the Robbie Farah factor.
When everything else is a problem and massive changes are made, but the same problems seem to persist, you look at who is left because they might just be the cause of all these problems.
At the time of writing this article the Panthers sit in 8th place on the ladder. A win over the Newcastle Knights could see them jump to 7th place on the ladder. This is about as successful as the Panthers have been since the “Undisclosed number of years but not necessarily five year” plan was started.
Some Panthers fans are more than happy with that. I know the majority, like myself, are not.
Hopefully we find out why Corey Payne is no longer the Panthers CEO. Hopefully it isn’t anything too serious.
I am starting to think that it is time for Penrith Panthers voting members to hold the board to account, and to look and braining new board members in to change the direction of the club. I also think it is long beyond time to have a CEO in place at the club that calls all the shot, who makes the final decisions, and who doesn’t need to look over their shoulder or have anyone else at the clubs unilaterally making decisions on their own.
The Penrith Panthers have been around for a long time. People come, people go. The Panthers move on and continue to rely on their true strength, the people and players of Western Sydney.
The club has never, and will never rely on any one person to survive. Corey Payne knows that. I wonder if everyone else at the club realises that too…
I wish Corey Payne all the best on his next endeavour.