Justin Pascoe breaks silence on 'disappointing' axing of entire Wests Tigers board

The axed Tigers chief executive says there is no one more upset about the current situation at the club than him.

Pictured left Justin Pascoe and right Benji Marshall
Justin Pascoe has broken his silence on the board's axing claiming there's no-one "more bitterly disappointed than me" after back-to-back wooden spoons. Image: Getty

Former Wests Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe has broken his silence on his axing, stating that no one is more disappointed than him about the current state of the club. After back-to-back wooden spoons the joint-venture club last week removed their entire board including Pascoe and chairman, Lee Hagipantelis.

The ousting came following a review of the club's culture and governance ordered by the board's controlling faction and major shareholder, the Holman Barnes Group. Hagipantelis, along with the rest of the seven-person board were all dismissed, with former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell acting as interim chair and former South Sydney Rabbitohs boss Shane Richardson taking over as interim CEO.

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Despite the Tigers failing to finish inside the top eight in 12 years, Pascoe believes the club has never been in a better position and will improve under the tutelage of rookie coach Benji Marshall. "For eight years I’ve felt the frustrations of the fans and our partners and there's no one more bitterly disappointed than me," Pascoe told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It burns every time we lose a game. But the club is in a position that's far better than it has ever been in my lifetime in regards to development and talent, rosters, and coaches. The fans and partners who have stuck solid by the club for a long time should be really comfortable the club will have success."

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 01: West Tigers Board Director Lee Hagipantelis and CEO Justin Pascoe look on before the start of the round 18 NRL match between North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers at Qld Country Bank Stadium on July 01, 2023 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
After back-to-back wooden spoons the joint-venture club last week removed their entire board including Justin Pascoe and chairman, Lee Hagipantelis (pictured together). Image: Getty (Ian Hitchcock via Getty Images)

Pascoe's position at the helm of the club came into question on multiple occasions by the Tigers faithful, with protest signs often seen during home matches. The slogans usually revolved around needing to rid the club of the 'Pascoe Fiasco' and the former CEO says he sympathised with the fans' frustration.

"While it doesn’t affect me (the calls for him to be removed), my concern was more about the staff at the club and my family," he said. "It’s never nice. It’s passion. It’s sport. I get it. The passion the fans have, when the club is successful this year, they will turn it from disappointment to excitement.”

Lee Hagipantelis slams 'disgraceful' treatment of board

Lee Hagipantelis earlier this month labelled the ousting of the entire board as "disgraceful", claiming he and the former Wests Tigers board had been treated with "gross disrespect". “We were never paid the respect of being involved or consulted as to the review. Even to this day, we have never been engaged or informed as to the results of the review or the recommendations. Now it appears unlikely that we will ever see the report," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I think the process was disgraceful. The entire thing was a knee-jerk reaction to a petition signed by 2000 disgruntled fans after the Wests Tigers lost 72-0 to the Cowboys. It’s perfectly understandable that our fans would vent their displeasure, but for some reason the Holman Barnes Group embarked upon a review feeling compelled to do so."

Hagipantelis claims after the findings of the review were leaked, the Holman Barnes Group were under pressure to dismiss the entire Wests Tigers board before anyone could respond. "Hence there were panic calls today to get approval to adopt the review and then to dismiss the board and lean on Justin," he told the Daily Telegraph. "It is just the manner in which the people conduct themselves. Not necessarily the outcomes. If this outcome is in the best interests of the club, well so be it."

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