Dumped Brumbies chairman Sean Hammond. Photo: Graham TidyThe ACT Brumbies have voted for change following a record financial loss this year, ousting chairman Sean Hammond and replacing him with new board member Rob Kennedy.
Kennedy, of Canberra accountancy and consultancy firm Synergy, is one of four fresh faces on the Brumbies board after a dramatic night of change at the annual general meeting.
There had been rumblings about a potential leadership challenge before the meeting, given the Brumbies bled a record $1.07 million in financial losses this year.
But Kennedy was a surprise candidate, voted on to the board and then straight into the chairman’s role.
Hammond not only lost the chair but he failed to win back a seat on the board.
Long-serving board members Dick Cordy and interim Brumbies chief executive Doug Edwards have stepped aside, their spots taken by Lisa Thorburn, ACT director of IT firm Datacom, and Peter Callaughan, a representative member of junior clubs.
Australian Wallabies forward Scott Fardy will be the new players’ representative, given Stephen Moore has stood down to focus on his first year of captaincy.
The massive shake-up at board level continues a period of instability for the Brumbies.
In the past 15 months, head coaches Jake White and Laurie Fisher have quit.
The Brumbies are also searching for their third chief executive in just over a year. Chief executive of a decade Andrew Fagan left his post to join AFL club the Adelaide Crows, while his replacement Edwards has given notice he will resign early next year.
Meanwhile, the club has relocated to its new facilities at the University of Canberra but is still on the hunt for a major naming rights sponsor to replace UC.
While the players have done their part, making the finals for the past two years, it has been one of the most turbulent periods in Brumbies history off the field.
That has been compounded by this year’s balance sheet. Hammond has previously admitted only about $2 million remains of the $11.375 million from the sale last year of the Brumbies’ Griffith property.
Continued financial losses like they had this year put the club at risk of going broke.
The Brumbies’ losses could have been worse if not for a boost in grants, especially from the government.
According to the annual report, made public on Tuesday night, government grants rose $738,908, or 48.7 per cent, to $2.255 million.
The Brumbies have not explained the boost. But it is understood the majority of the increase relates to a $1 million grant from the ACT government to the club in August for ground works at their new UC base.
Grants from the Australian Rugby Union rose marginally to more than $6.43 million, but this takes into account an increase in the number of Australian Wallabies representative players and their payments.
Match day revenue, made up mostly of ticket sales, dropped 31 per cent, down more than $740,000 to $1.646 million. Sponsorship was also on the slide, down more than $785,000 to $3.96 million.
While membership income remained steady, revenue from merchandise and hospitality at games dropped about 7 per cent.