Are the Penrith Panthers really the most valuable sporting brand in Australia? As a Penrith Panthers supporter, I am not so sure…
The Penrith Panthers have so many advantages over other sporting clubs. Some of them are just a case of being in the right place with the right set of circumstances. Others have been built up over many years.
Panthers Leagues club is truly impressive. I’ve been going there so at least 25 years now and have watched it crowd from a big club into a massive club. When you go to Panthers League club these days you are entering a large complex that has done everything it possibly can to become the entertainment and recreation hub of the Penrith region.
The Penrith Panthers control the biggest junior Rugby League nursery in the world. When you consider that they are based in a very crowded sporting market in Sydney this is a huge advantage, one they will never have to give up.
Right now the Penrith Panthers closest major league sporting rivals are the Parramatta Eels and the Western Sydney Wanderers, both of whom play at Parramatta Stadium. For the most part, Penrith has a massive section of the Sydney market all to itself.
One thing the Penrith Panthers have always been good at is using their branding effectively across all of their sporting and entertainment ventures. You would be hard pressed to find any part of the Panthers business that isn’t branded with the Panthers naming and logo. That is where most of this valuation comes from.
On the sporting field though, the Penrith Panthers NRL club suffers from a lack of success and a very poor relationship with a fan base that has dwindled over the years. If you valued the Penrith Panthers on their NRL team alone they would probably struggle to be in the top 30 major sporting clubs in Australia.
This balance between the business behind the Panthers and what we see on the football field is an interesting one. While the business side of the Panthers group has had its struggles at times, they have owned so many assets that its more been a case of needing to manage their finances better rather than being in any trouble of falling over.
The Panthers have been very good at giving the football side of the operation anything it needs. The Panthers have pretty much all of the facilities and NRL club could want. When money is REALLY needed to pulling off the signing of a good coach, it is made available. The Penrith Panthers NRL club can cry poor at times, but the reality is that they never really go without.
With all of these things going in their favour, the Penrith panthers NRL club should be a juggernaught. They should be right up there with the Brisbane Broncos as the overall heavyweights of the National Rugby League.
Poor management has hurt the football side of the Panthers for a long time. Considering the lack of sporting rivals west of Parramatta the crowds the Panthers draw are terrible. When you head east of Panthers territory you see the Panthers influence fall away dramatically as you pass St Marys. That is an issue the Panthers really need to start to address.
I don’t put too much currency in these sort of lists. A sporting brand is only really worth what the community is willing to buy it for. In that respect, Penrith Panthers fans themselves have shown where they believes the Panthers stand in the sporting landscape as they continue to stay away while the club struggles to become competitive again. While it is fantastic that the Panthers businesses are going well, none of that really matter to the majority of sporting fans.
So before the Penrith Panthers start patting themselves on the back for a job well done, maybe they should look at many of the issues the club still faces. Yes the club is heading in the right direction, but there is a long way to go because the Penrith Panthers can even claim to be one of the top ten clubs in the NRL, let alone in all of Australia.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com