Lee Hagipantelis will remain chairman of the Wests Tigers for another three years after being re-elected at a board meeting on Monday.
The news, which was first reported by The Daily Telegraph, comes after another turbulent season for the club which ended with another wooden spoon finish.
That in turn placed even more pressure on both the coaching staff and front office, with former head coach Tim Sheens parting ways with the club.
Hagipantelis though is here to stay after gaining unanimous support from the board and will now remain at the Tigers until at least the end of the 2026 season.
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“Is he the right man to lead the club forward? Well I guess that is the debate that Tigers fans will have,” The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie said on ‘NRL Tonight’.
“No doubt it will be a difficult sell. You’ve just won back-to-back wooden spoons, to try to sell the fact the chairman has signed a three-year deal will be difficult. Fans no doubt will be jumping on social media right now, questioning how and why this was allowed to happen.
“Lee Hagipantelis is a very intelligent man. He loves rugby league and certainly his dedication and passion towards the Wests Tigers cannot be in question.
“I guess the only question mark I would throw forward is do we need to sign a chairman for three years? I would have thought it would have been a one or two-year deal, CEOs perhaps a little bit longer but I thought the chairman might have been a little less.”
Hagipantelis was quoted by The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday saying that the appointment was “confirmation that as a club we believe that we are heading in the right direction”.
Ritchie though was sceptical of that claim given results in recent years.
“I’d love to think that,” Ritchie said.
“I’m still yet to be convinced though, as sad it sounds to Tigers fans who’ve had enough of waiting and enough of being told to be patient. I’ve yet to be convinced that there’s anything that I’ve seen inside the four walls at Concord that will change for next season.
“I think there’s another year or two of pain left out there for the joint venture club before perhaps some success might finally land on their doorstep.”
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When asked why members and fans should trust the CEO and board to make the right decisions, Hagipantelis told foxsports.com.au the club as a whole is “heading in the right direction”.
“We’ve got 400,000 people who identify as members and fans of this club,” he said back in August.
“All of them are entitled to their view and their opinion and we take it on board. But I think people can see for themselves the club is heading in the right direction. Look at the performances of this team over the last three to four months in particular.
“There’s been a few anomalies of course and an aberration here or there but generally speaking the performance of this team has been very, very good. I don’t think we’re far away from being incredibly competitive.
“There’s a few challenges in our roster which are being addressed. Once those final pieces of the puzzle are added in this team could be anything. Don’t forget the Broncos collected the wooden spoon in 2020 and in 2023 they’re competing for a premiership. It can turn and it can turn very quickly.”
While Hagipantelis’ role at the club is now locked in, there is still an element of uncertainty surrounding the vacant head of football position with Michael Cheika the latest candidate to be linked to the role.
Robbie Farah is another who has been brought up as a possible replacement, with Chris Heighington and Mark O’Neill also floated as potential solutions.
Hagipantelis addressed the speculation surrounding the vacant role earlier this week but was more disappointed than anything that news of possible candidates was being discussed in the media.
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“I’m told he’s (Cheika) a very impressive character and people speak very, very highly of him, but as to the Wests Tigers and the Head of Football role, all the applicants and candidates are being considered on a strictly confidential basis,” Hagipantelis said.
“Again, here we are talking about things being reported in the paper to my consternation. It’s just beyond me to explain this.
“We are going through the process at the moment but there are a number of qualified applicants that have put themselves in the picture, we had a board meeting last night and had discussions but there’s also a review going on as well.
“The board last night resolved just to sit back for the moment and allow the review process to go through, because there might be a bit of overlay between the two in terms of governance, so we are just going to sit back at the moment.
“We’ve been warmly humbled by the quality of the candidates and those who have shown interest in the role.”
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