My open letter to Ivan Cleary and Todd Greenberg.

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Well here we are again, in the midst of more drama as the NRL season is slowly coming to an end. Am I surprised? Not one bit. Am I disappointed? Incredibly.
 
 
For us Wests Tigers fans, 2018 was our year. Not our year to win a Premiership, maybe not even a year to make finals, but it was a year to rebuild the playing roster, rebuild the coaching staff, and rebuild this club. It was the year we stop being wooden spoon contenders but finals contenders, and overall, 2018 has been a good year for us Tigers. Up until now.....
 
 
The last 48 hours have been drama filled not just for us Tigers fans, but for the sport, and as a fan, it’s incredibly embarrassing. As I head into my Wednesday afternoon, I have managed to completely ignore all this Cleary drama up until now. I’ve stayed out of the Nathan Cleary talk and I’ve stayed out of the new story about Ivan Cleary, but now that I read that both the Panthers and Tigers may end up in court over the contract of Ivan Cleary as head coach, I can no longer stay quiet, and this is where I speak up.
 
 
As a Wests Tigers fan and a fan of our not so great sport, I am keeping a neutral opinion here. From everything I’ve read it’s simply “he said, she said” bull. Not once have we heard from Ivan, and this is where I must keep my opinion to a professional manner as none of us but Ivan Cleary himself knows what’s going on or what he’s thinking, however I have my disappointments with him, and I do have some words to say, so Ivan, I hope this reaches you.
 
 
As a diehard Wests Tigers fan since the merger in 1999, it has been far from easy. Sure we won the comp in 2005, and out of all my sporting teams I follow, it is my favourite title, but outside of the year of 2005, it has been an absolute hellish road,  like walking down the Hume Highway with bare feet on nothing but broken glass. 
 
 
We’ve been through a countless amount of management rebuilds, an insane amount of player drama and behavioural issues, our fair share of coaching problems, and even such dramas as being in the relocation topic or even the re-merger and dismissal topic. But that all ended last year right? After 17 years of a lack of success and just one single year to look back on with a smile, this year was meant to be the year it all turns around, and we finally become that club that can compete for years to come. Am I right? 
 
 
Well yes. This year was that year. The appointment of a legend such as Ivan Cleary in the head coach position last year was one of the best things to ever happen to us fans as a Tigers supporter. He’s a long awaited breathe of fresh air and the saviour to our problems. The signing of Ivan meant a future for us, a step forward out of the drama filled shadow. 
 
 
2018 started perfectly, the year has been amazing! Despite us most probably missing finals, we are still a chance, the only remaining team in finals contention outside of the top 8. I’m honesty so proud of my team for being where they are considering we’ve spent almost five years as wooden spoon contenders! The signing of some great players by Ivan, and even more exciting, the new addition of Moses Mbye and the return of the king in Robbie Farah. What a year it has been for us Tigers fans! It’s a good start to what is meant to be a big future. “Meant to be” being the key statement there, because In the space of just 48 hours, it has all undone itself, we are back where we belong, and Ivan Cleary, you may of just lost us all in your support.
 
 
The year started with excitement for us! So many new faces, so much talent joining our team. The return of the magician in Benji Marshall, we were pumped! The “On The Bus” slogan was built and became the 2018 slogan for all fans for the Wests Tigers thanks to Ivan and his brilliant “On The Bus” quote about his playing group. The membership count hit a record high, the finances were the best they’ve ever been, the playing group was drama free, and we had so much love for our new general that our membership drive and tv advertisement was about booking your seat “On The Bus.”
 
 
Now Ivan Cleary, I’m not jumping the gun until I hear what you have to say, however why aren’t you saying anything? Us fans are reading everywhere that the Panthers hosted you at a meeting about bringing you back. We’re hearing about the Tigers board telling Gus that we will see him in court. And now, now we’re hearing the players are unsettled. Not to mention this coming just a week after you told us all you would bring your son over, and by doing so could possibly see the end of our most loyal player in Luke Brooks. 
 
 
So while I hold my judgement for now, where are you? Why now? If this isn’t true, why aren’t you coming out and shutting it all down? We are still in the finals race and in contention. Why not shut this all down and keep us all focussed on what is still an open race? Why allow the fans, board and players to worry when we are still in with a chance of playing finals for the first time since 2012! Why are you so quiet?
 
 
But you see, this is where the media may be right. If this wasn’t actually true, and all this was Gus talking a load of trash, why would the Tigers CEO need to release a statement on the topic of fighting for you and challenging the Panthers to a battle in the courts? All that alone makes a diehard like me think “well s**t, here we go again....”
 
 
I have nothing else to say to you than “why?” Ivan. Why return to the man who treated you so poorly first time around? And if this is all untrue, why not shoot this all down before it got to this point? Why Ivan?!
 
 
After all, wasn’t it you who told the media “You sign a contract, you honour it” in regards to Mitchell Moses wanting an early release in 2017.
 
 
Now moving onto Mr Todd Greenberg and the NRL. In what is set to be the biggest year in the sports history for many reasons, we once again deal with more crap! The refereeing has been a serious issue, the drama around salary caps is never ended, and we once again fight against player attitude issues and outside drama not needed within the sport. Ad on another one now, the drama about a rebuilding club possibly loosing their new found saviour to their rival club whilst still contracted for another two seasons.
 
 
The fact that you Todd have not had a single say on this is the worst part of it all. We are all sitting here watching a greedy man no one likes try and ruin the reputation of the sport. AFL fans everywhere laugh at our misfortune, and this is a serious issue. 
 
 
We simply need to put our foot down on these contracts. Ivan Cleary has two years remaining at the Tigers still, TWO YEARS! Yet somehow another club is allowed to invite him to a meeting to convince him to leave his contract early and come back. How is this fair? How is this allowed? Todd Greenberg, you need to be stepping in on this and telling old mate Gus to f**k off and find a coach who isn’t contracted.
 
 
I’ll end my rant now, but this is another stain on what could of been an incredible year for us NRL fans. Wether your team was drama free or not this season, you have to admit that it’s been one joke of a season off the field, and that issues like this are so far from professional it’s not funny. The fact this sport is considered a professional sport at this current time is quite the joke, and there are some serious issues that need to be addressed.
 
 
To you Gus I say, f**k off, and focus on your so called 50 year plan without ruining other clubs cultures.
 
 
To Ivan I say, please for the love of god stay loyal. Not only for us Tigers fans, but for the sport itself.
 
 
And to Todd “CEO” Greenberg, pull your ass into gear and start doing something about this. This needs to be stopped, and these issues need to be avoided in the future. Get going!
 
 
Peace out fans!
 
 
-Blake.
A disgruntled Tigers and NRL fan.

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