Penn is not mightier than the board … the Herald breaks the news yesterday.
MANLY co-owner Scott Penn last night warned that the boardroom battle at Brookvale could mean his family ending its financial commitment to the Sea Eagles and walking away from the club.
Penn said that would happen if his family's majority shareholding was not matched by a voting majority in the boardroom. Penn said he did not want to alarm Sea Eagles fans, but felt he had a duty to state the family's position after it was revealed in the Herald yesterday he had been asked to stand down as chairman - a proposal he refused - and stripped of his role as the board's spokesman at a meeting on Wednesday. ''It's not our preferred option to pull out but, if this goes on for long enough, then it becomes a genuine possibility,'' Penn told the Herald.
''You can't keep banging your head against a brick wall. We have to sort this out. They [fellow board members] are doing this to frustrate us and force us out, but no one else would come in and pour the same amount of money into the club unless the situation I'm talking about was fixed.
''We have made a massive financial commitment of $20 million to the club over the years. We love the history of the Manly club and we're passionate about the team. It's not about making money, it's about making a difference, and the club has won two comps since we've been here. But, seemingly, that's not good enough.
''What we're trying to make sure of is that we turn the club into a sound business, so that we don't have to keep putting our hands in our pockets all the time … as a family we have the best interests of the club at heart, but the conduct of the four non-Penn directors on the board is oppressive.''
The main issue dividing the board is that the Penn family, despite owning a majority of between 50 per cent and 51 per cent of the club, have only three of the seven votes on the board. The Quantum company, which owns about 37.5 per cent, and the district football club (about 12 per cent) have the other four votes between them.
That majority of votes was used to carry a no-confidence motion in Penn's chairmanship at Wednesday's meeting. There was the stripping of his role as spokesman as well, but that did not stop Penn talking yesterday. He said he was speaking from his family's position as co-owner and majority shareholder.
''Theoretically, they have put a gag order on me,'' Penn said. ''But this is a personal issue. I'm speaking as Scott Penn, a shareholder who is being attacked in the media. Currently, we only have three seats on a board of seven. It is not right.''
Bob Reilly, one of the non-Penn directors, told the Herald: ''I can't comment … the board's spokesperson is Phil Sydney.''
Sydney, from Quantum, did not return the Herald's call yesterday.