Entire Wests Tigers board dismissed, Pascoe resigns as CEO

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The entire Wests Tigers board has been dismissed, effective immediately, with chief executive Justin Pascoe also resigning from the club.

Barry O’Farrell will become the interim chairman, while Shane Richardson will become interim chief executive.

The seismic changes at the joint venture follow an independent review into the governance of the club and a restructure officially endorsed by shareholders in a meeting on Monday night.

The review was ordered by the Holman Barnes Group, the controlling faction on the Tigers board, and while the changes are subject to legal approval, HBG chair Tony Andreacchio said they were necessary after the side went 12 years without a finals appearance.

“We are determined to be successful for our members and fans and that process begins in the front office,” said Andreacchio, who thanked Hagipantelis and Pascoe for their service.

“Lee and Justin faced enormous challenges, but they have left a legacy which gives us a strong base for the future. But one thing is clear – this club is determined to provide the leadership required to be successful in the NRL.”

Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe and chairman Lee Hagipantelis.Credit: Getty

The interim board has been reduced from seven members to four in the short term and will comprise a representative from each of the Wests Tigers shareholders in Dave Gilbert (HBG), Danny Stapleton (Balmain Tigers chairman) and a still-to-be-confirmed nomination from the Wests Magpies, with O’Farrell acting as chairman.

“We all share one goal – to see the Wests Tigers again become a real force in the NRL on and off the field,” Stapleton said, a view endorsed by Magpies chairman Dennis Burgess.

The club also continues to hunt marquee-signing targets Jarome Luai and Addin Fonua-Blake, with insiders insistent that rookie coach Benji Marshall has salary cap space to accommodate both on more than $1 million a year each.

The Tigers have tabled a four-year, $4.5 million offer to Luai as well as the chance to lead the side at halfback as he continues to weigh up staying at three-time reigning premiers Penrith, or taking up the big money on offer at the Tigers and Canterbury.

Whether prospective signings, including Luai and Fonua-Blake – who is being courted by several Sydney clubs for 2025 – are daunted by the off-field shake-up and board’s dismissal is a delicate factor in potential negotiations.

Pascoe’s departure ends a tumultuous tenure in which the club’s off-field and financial successes were offset by a churn of coaches and on-field struggles, culminating in Tim Sheens’ second coming as coach and early succession by club great Marshall.

Hagipantelis, who is also the principal at the club’s major sponsor, Brydens Lawyers – which pays about $1 million a season to feature on the front of the Tigers jersey – was chairman for four years.

This masthead has previously reported concerns within the club that Brydens will not renew its deal, which ends after the 2024 season, if Hagipantelis is no longer involved at board level.

O’Farrell’s return in an interim capacity marks his second stint at the club after a one-year tenure as chairman in 2019, before taking up a role as high commissioner to India.

Richardson has spent more than 30 years in the game, most recently as a consultant to an expansion bid from Brisbane Tigers and as CEO of the Rabbitohs for more than a decade, including their 2014 premiership win.

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