Rabbitohs CEO Shane Richardson Farewelled to NRL

21st January 2015

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have paid tribute to CEO Shane Richardson and his 11 years of service to the Club following his announcement that he is moving into a new role as Head of Game Strategy and Development at the National Rugby League. The Club also announced that John Lee will become the new Chief Executive Officer of the South Sydney Football Club. Mr Richardson will complete his time as CEO of the Rabbitohs after almost 11 years, a period in the Club’s history in which he helped deliver unprecedented growth in commercial areas off the field, the change in ownership structure of the Club introducing private investment, the beginning of the process for the development of the Club’s High Performance Community Centre at Heffron Park in Maroubra, a clear vision for the future of the Foundation Club, and the Club’s 21st Premiership in 2014. Mr Richardson, the longest serving CEO amongst the NRL CEOs group since first being appointed as Chief Executive of the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in 1993 and the only NRL CEO to take two clubs from wooden spoons to premierships during his tenure, made the decision to shift to the governing body to work under NRL CEO Dave Smith in this newly created role.

Under Mr Richardson’s stewardship at the Rabbitohs:

  • the Club’s Membership base has grown to more than 30,000 Members generating revenues of over $3.7 million annually;
  • corporate sponsorship has lifted to over $7.4 million annually;
  • merchandise revenues were in excess of $3.5 million in 2014;
  • he led the establishment and growth of the South Cares charitable organisation which has taken the Rabbitohs’ connection to their communities and those in need to new heights;
  • the Club began work and sourced funding for the building of a $25 million High Performance Community Centre which will bring all aspects of the South Sydney Football Club and South Cares, an organisation of which Mr Richardson is a Director, under the one roof;
  • the Club has achieved record levels of media value and digital media growth;
  • the Club has developed first-in-class systems in corporate governance and accounting which has led to total revenues of over $27 million and net profits of almost $2 million in 2014; and
  • the Club has a world-class football set up which delivered the Club’s record 21st Premiership in 2014.

    Shane Richardson joins NRL

    The NRL have announced the appointment of Shane Richardson to drive strategic game-related projects that create the right game structure and opportunities for future growth. NRL Chief Executive Officer Dave Smith said Mr Richardson would take up the new position of Head of Game Strategy and Development at the beginning of March. He will be responsible for delivering key projects that support growth and development across all forms of the game from the grassroots and schools through to the elite and international levels. Key priorities for 2015 include:

  • Considering the growth of the game's footprint and its competition structures
  • In conjunction with the states and affiliates, developing a blueprint for grassroots junior and senior football across Australia and New Zealand
  • Considering how we better develop elite players across the different regions and clubs to protect and spread talent, including considering the game's options for a Rookie Draft system

    Mr Smith said the newly-created role would ensure a senior person was dedicated to developing rugby league's growth as a game and the structure of the sport in all its forms. "We have built tremendous momentum over the past couple of years and there has never been a more important time for this role as we head into the next broadcast and digital rights deals," Mr Smith said. "This initiative is all about working on strategic game-related projects across the organisation that are focussed on identifying further opportunities for growth, and creating modern structures, that set the sport up for decades to come. "As a game, we have taken big steps forward in unlocking the potential in Rugby League and that was just the start - now there is an opportunity for even better things to happen. "We have a very clear objective to keep building long-term value in Rugby League to ensure we are well placed to secure our future as a major and valuable sport so that we can keep reinvesting in the game. "It is a sign of the game's maturity that we are now in a position to ensure a focus on projects that have the potential to be game changers and set ourselves up for the future." One of the most senior administrators in Rugby League, Mr Richardson said he was excited about joining the NRL at such an important time. Mr Richardson has been in his current role as CEO of the South Sydney Rabbitohs for 11 years. "I have been involved in the game for more than 50 years either playing, coaching or in administration in Australia and the United Kingdom," Mr Richardson said. "I am excited about the opportunity to bring that experience to the NRL at such a critical time in its evolution. "There are big things happening in Rugby League and this role gives me the opportunity to be part of it right at the centre so that I can make a difference to its long-term future."