Staying put: Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire looks on during a South Sydney training session last year. Photo: Getty Images
With coach Michael Maguire having re-signed, a net profit of more than $1 million and a projected 30,000 members before the start of the season in four weeks, all that remains for South Sydney is winning the elusive 21st premiership.
Maguire ended months of speculation about his future on Tuesday by committing to a further three years at Redfern. The Rabbitohs are set to roll out more big news, with their annual report, out on Thursday, showing a seven-figure net profit and a turnover of more than $25 million.
Souths have already exceeded 24,000 members for the coming season and believe Maguire's retention will help them achieve their target of 30,000 by the March 6 kick-off against Sydney Roosters, a match on track for a crowd of 50,000 at ANZ Stadium.
''I think the new era for South Sydney really begins today and we are going to have four great years ahead of us,'' Rabbitohs chairman Nicholas Pappas said after finalising negotiations to extend Maguire's contract until 2017.
By then, Souths official aim to have 50,000 members and their first premiership win since 1971, and they believe Maguire is the man to deliver that after taking the team to just one win short of the grand final in each of his first two seasons at the club.
''We are in a good state on and off the field but it is all about winning our 21st premiership and we see Madge's signing as a step towards that,'' Rabbitohs chief executive Shane Richardson said.
While he would not reveal specific details of the annual report, Richardson said the Rabbitohs had made a $1 million-plus profit from the club's football operations last season, with no leagues club or any funding from owners Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court.
''We made a seven-figure net profit and EBITDA [earnings before interest and taxes, depreciation and amortisation] of about $2.6 million and we have grown our turnover to over $25 million from $8.5 million when I joined the club and are obviously shooting for 30,000 members, so we are in a very strong position,'' he said.
''Madge has done a great job on the field as well and we are planning for a bright future. We have a strategic plan coming out and we are aiming to get 50,000 members in four years so we are shooting for the top and we want to stay there.''
Maguire's signing should put paid to speculation he had fallen out with Crowe and had been considering a move to Brisbane in 2015, despite Anthony Griffin being contracted to coach the Broncos for a further two seasons.
Broncos sources have assured Fairfax Media they have had no contact with Maguire since he was at Wigan and are understood to have inquired about him as a possible replacement for Wayne Bennett before appointing Griffin in 2011. Bizarrely, there had also been whispers about Bennett coaching Souths next season, despite reaffirming his commitment to Newcastle at the end of last season after reports he was headed to North Queensland.
With the Rabbitohs surrendering an early 14-0 lead and again falling one win short of the grand final, some with connections to the club or Crowe are believed to have suggested only Bennett could guarantee Souths their first premiership since 1971.
However, Maguire enjoys strong support from Rabbitohs players, officials and fans after the most successful season since winning the 1989 minor premiership.
''All of those rumours are nonsense,'' Pappas said. ''Madge and Russell have never had an argument. Russell isn't involved and neither is Peter, they just keep their distance.''