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Statement from Bulldogs Chair Lynne Anderson

The following statement is attributed to Lynne Anderson, outgoing Chair of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Football Club Board.

For the past two and half years it has been my privilege to serve as Chair of the Canterbury Bulldogs Football Club, having twice been elected by a vote of the full membership in that time. Whilst standing down means that I and two of my fellow directors, John Ballesty and Paul Dunn, won’t be around to finish the job we started, we will always put the interests of the Club before our own.

To that end, our decision clears a path for the Club to move forward and build on the platform for future success we have laid, without the unnecessary disruption of an EGM before the 2021 season.

When elected in 2018, the Board and I immediately set about developing a strategy to deliver what our members and fans told us they wanted most – success on the field and to rebuild the Bulldogs into a respected NRL powerhouse. To put it simply, we would return to becoming a Development Club. We made no secret of the fact we inherited some challenges, the most pressing being how to ensure we could field a competitive roster with the salary cap debacle that handicapped retention and recruitment plans for several years. We always said it was going to take some time to turn the corner – that it would not be until 2021 that we would be in control of our destiny. I’m proud to say that has been achieved.

I acknowledge there have been challenges and mistakes along the way, we are always learning. Things rarely run perfectly in professional sporting organisations, and the behind the scenes wins are not greeted with as much interest as the problems. But there have been many achievements in the past two and a half years in line with the pillars we set out that I am proud of, including:

  • Clearing-up the salary cap mess by making some hard decisions to create room to start the rebuild of the roster
  • Putting in place a terrific new coaching team to lead the rebuild from season 2021
  • Adding two marquee signings in Luke Thompson and Nic Cotric for 2021
  • Introducing a Recruitment Committee to deal with new signings transparently, putting the days of back room deals and back-ended contracts behind us
  • Introducing good governance with the creation of new sub-committees to cover all parts of the business
  • Commitment to the strategy of once again becoming a successful Development Club through a renewed focus on both Junior League and the broader Rugby League world. This resulted in some tremendous results, including Grand Finals in both Harold Matthews and SG Ball competitions
  • Totally revamping our Junior League relationship with greater senior club support, resulting in increased numbers in registrations, volunteers and sponsorship investment
  • Beyond our Juniors we have created a successful new relationship with the Far North Coast area
  • More recently we announced a partnership with the successful Mounties Group to open additional Bulldogs pathway opportunities for both boys and girls. This partnership will provide additional marketing resources and reach to grow our support in the broader Western Sydney region, plus in a COVID impacted economy it provides crucial financial savings in the immediate future through cost sharing with Mounties
  • I’m especially proud to say we have a first ever Bulldogs Women’s Strategy, including applying for a NRLW franchise and establishing the Women of  Bulldogs program with its goal of increasing female representation across all levels of our club and community 
  • Securing  a major sponsor partnership with Laundy Hotels. This has the potential to be a game-changer for this Club in the years to come. The importance of securing this partnership in the midst of a COVID challenged economy has been invaluable
  • Plans are in place for a first ever Group Strategic Plan, combining strategies for both Football and League Clubs. The impacts of an unforeseen global pandemic mean we need to have a secure future outlook, as we saw things can change in a blink with the traditional security of League Club and NRL funding under threat.
  • The Club’s immediate and responsible actions to the COVID threat also have us on track to deliver a profit for 2020 – a tremendous achievement
  • We have committed to embedding the Bulldogs DNA and culture across all layers of our club. Part of this has led to a revived relationship with our Bulldogs Ambassadors.
  • Finally, we promised to engage more with members. Until COVID disrupted our way of life, we delivered 4 Member Forums annually, and most importantly, we ALWAYS confirmed key news about the Club with Bulldogs members and fans first, before the media. All Directors were ALWAYS available to members.

There is a Bulldogs logo at the entrance to the Club’s headquarters at Belmore Oval that spells out our motto - ‘Club First, Team Second, Individual Third.’ It is how people involved with this special Club should conduct themselves. So while it is in my DNA to fight and never let anyone down, John, Paul and I were determined to act to prevent an EGM process that interfered with the arrival of our new recruits, coaching staff or the Club’s preparations for 2021. I have full confidence in the remaining Board members and the process they will now oversee to appoint three new directors. That will hopefully provide the Club with much-needed stability going forward. I also thank all directors I have had the privilege to serve with since February 2018.

It is now up to every person that loves this club to cease with any negativity going forward and put their full support behind the coach and players for next season. I implore everyone to now get out of the way and give the Club a chance to fulfil its potential without any further interference. That is the only way this club can prosper going forward.

There are several other people I wish to thank for the support they have provided to me and my fellow Board members: 

  • Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill and his staff who have done a great job in difficult circumstances to deliver on the Board’s plans for rebuilding the Club on and off the field, particularly during the COVID-19 period.
  • The playing and coaching staff who have always given their all on the field. Every one of you will always be part of the Bulldogs family.
  • In particular, I want to thank all our 2020 squad and their families for the incredible sacrifices they made to play for the Bulldogs this year. The NRL bubble was incredibly challenging for these families, as well as players taking significant pay cuts. We are forever grateful to them.
  • All of the sponsors of the Club, old and new, who recognise the value of the Bulldogs brand and share our belief that the Club will rise again to be a dominant force in the NRL. 
  • Our community partners including Active Breed, the She Summit with Western Sydney University and more recently the Loaves and Fishes Restaurant for the homeless that our players recently gave up their free time to visit.
  • The many members and fans who personally contacted me to offer their encouragement in recent weeks. Your loyalty and support means more than I can put into words.
  • My husband and family who I now look forward to spending more time with.

I love the Bulldogs and have been deeply involved with the Club for more than 50 years, starting as a childhood fan who never missed a match at Belmore Oval. Like many (older) members and supporters, I have a painful recollection of the 1967 Grand Final against the Rabbitohs, and great memories of the Club’s many successes through the golden years of the 1980s and 90s. I believe the future is bright and I look forward to more successful years ahead.

All the best to everyone for season 2021.

Always Proud to be a Bulldog

Lynne Anderson

Member #34416