Panthers look ahead to strong 2014 season

On the field the Penrith Panthers are a work in progress. A team that is building with the help of a prolific junior league nursery to become no.1.

Off the field, the Panthers are thriving. A market leader. A powerhouse. And now officially, no.1.

The club was recently named Australia’s most valuable sports brand for 2013 being valued at $46.2 million.

In a study by Brand Finance and Landor Associates, the club finished ahead of AFL powerhouse Collingwood ($39.1 million) and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs ($34.5 million) to nab the top spot.

Head of business development for the Panthers Group, Justin Pascoe said the secret to their success has been the result of an increased engagement with the fans and the community.

‘’Our ethos as a club is all about football, the game and  community  and we haven’t altered from that,’’ Mr Pascoe said.

“We are very excited as a group to be named no.1. We have spent a lot of time trying to change the brand and image and to come out on top against the likes of Hawthorn and Collingwood is a testament to what we have done in the past 12 months.’’

The high valuation, some seven million more than its nearest rival,  comes as a result of the synergy between the Panthers Group businesses and the NRL team to create a core module for success. A model that is only going to get stronger in the future.

Panthers rugby league executive general manager Phil Gould foreshadowed that by 2016 Panthers will be just starting to reach their potential.

It’s the same year the state-of-the-art Western Sydney Sport and Community Centre is expected be completed, that is to include the NRL Academy and Elite Learning Centre.

The next step is success on the field.

“Ivan [Cleary] would say we haven’t created success until we are in a position to compete for the premiership regularly. Not just once, like we have done and be in exile for 10 years, but being able to compete year in and year out is the key onfield goal,’’  Mr Pascoe said.

“The good thing is usually you rely on on-field performance to translate to off the field success in terms of business,  but now we have a little bit of equilibrium which is good and is a big help.’’

Ivan Cleary’s men enter 2014 on the back of a successful 2013 where they surprised everyone with their unique brand of footy that inspired an unlikely run to the play offs.

Jamie Soward headlines the list of new recruits that has Panthers fans optimistic they can take the next step this year.

Soward, Isaac John, James Segeyaro and Matt Moylan will form one of the quickest and lethal spines in the NRL.

In the forwards Brent Kite, Elijah Taylor and Tyrone Peachey add class and experience to an engine room that already features the likes of Tim Grant, Sika Manu and the ‘’bash brothers’’ — Adam Docker and Nigel Plum.

Coming off stand out World Cup campaigns newly re-signed Dean Whare and Kevin Naiqama will be ones to watch in 2014.

The Panthers start their 2014 NRL campaign against the Newcastle Knights on Saturday, March 8 at Centrebet Stadium.

Top 5 brands

1. Penrith Panthers

2. Collingwood Magpies

3. Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

4. West Coast Eagles

5. Hawthorn Hawks

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