Eels members reject boardroom reforms

Parramatta Leagues Club chairman Max Donnelly.
Parramatta Leagues Club chairman Max Donnelly. PAUL MILLER

PARRAMATTA'S attempts to distance itself from the bitter boardroom politics of the past failed spectacularly on Wednesday night when chairman Max Donnelly's constitutional reforms were voted down by members.

At an extraordinary general meeting held at Rosehill racecourse, Donnelly failed to pass strict new eligibility requirements to become a director of Parramatta Leagues Club, namely excluding anyone who was an Eels board member before July 16 last year.

It's a clear sign former Eels supremos Denis Fitzgerald and Roy Spagnolo still wield significant influence among members, having mobilised the necessary numbers to block the proposed landmark reforms.

The vote ended up 68 in favour of the reforms, and 125 against.

With the Eels performing strongly on the field - Brad Arthur's side takes on North Queensland in Saturday night's semi-final - Donnelly saw these reforms as a way of ensuring the club would never again be at risk of the salary cap scandal that tore Parramatta apart last year.

Under the unsuccessful changes, anyone who had a finding made against them by the Office of Liquor and Gaming would have been barred from holding a position on the board.

Donnelly also wanted to remove the requirement for prospective directors to have to have been paying members of the club for three years.

While non-aligned voters seemed to not attend, believing the changes would pass, the factions threatened by the reforms united to block them.

It's understood Fitzgerald, Spagnolo and Paul Garrard led the charge.

Officials are still confident of completing the reform, though alterations to the original proposal may need to be made.

Donnelly was appointed as administrator when the former board was sacked following last year's salary cap scandal.

The veteran official will stay on as chairman until the reforms are in place, ensuring there is no threat to the long-term stability of the club.

Topics:  nrl salary cap parramatta eels

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