Despite facing their worst start to a season, St George Illawarra insisted it was a time for loyalty when they granted coach Paul McGregor a reprieve following an emergency board meeting on Tuesday.
Just four games into a new two-year contract, McGregor's time in the role appeared up when the meeting was called in the wake of Monday's humiliating 22-2 loss to the Bulldogs, which left the Dragons alone at the bottom of the NRL ladder.
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However, the board opted to stick with McGregor despite a horror start to the season which has yielded four straight losses, including the past two games without scoring a try.
It's understood McGregor would have been entitled to a payout of around $1 million if sacked, placing great financial strain on the club, along with the cost of hiring a new coach.
All would fall under the club's football department cap, and without an obvious replacement, the club would risk missing out on attracting the right long-term coach with less cash to spend.
Even still, fans have reacted to the McGregor news with a mixture of disbelief and anger, with some disillusioned Dragons supporters signalling their intentions of boycotting the club.
Dragons fans need to organise a full, massive protest. Banners and all, what a disgrace this club is.. there is no regard for fans or club members— Nookienoo (@NaomiStarkey3) June 9, 2020
Time for Dragons Fans to revolt. How he survived that board meeting and not get sacked speaks volumes for our board members (McGregors mates) and the new owners who have no balls. We need to show unity and not renew or buy merchandise. 7 years of shyte. #redv #EnoughIsEnough pic.twitter.com/yFxRu8d9WQ— ZZ (@ZZPease) June 9, 2020
@NRL_Dragons Couldn't be bothered putting the board statement regarding Coach's status on the site?— VicDragon (@kempyred4life) June 9, 2020
Fair enough, it's only our worst start in 15 years, fans rightly dismayed and distraught but hey, who cares huh
I agree mate, I’m trying to cancel. I love the Dragons and always will follow them but beings member of something that doesn’t give 2 shots about you hurts @NRL_Dragons— Dragonsforever (@sherring010) June 9, 2020
This decision has only to do with money, and nothing else! The Board either don’t want to, or can’t afford to pay McGregor out! Every day he stays there he destroys the Club! Blind Freddie can see the players don’t want to play for him or even be there! SACK McGREGOR NOW...!!!— peterjon79 (@peterjon79) June 9, 2020
The Dragons have refused to sack Paul McGregor. pic.twitter.com/fSQsAk2Wbo— 81M (@The81stMinute) June 9, 2020
What is this utter nonsense about a coach only being able to be sacked if the board votes unanimously to sack them. What a cop out. Dragons fans should be angry that the club won’t just be honest with them. If there’s a reason to keep McGregor just say it. #RugbyLeague #NRL #RedV— League Freak (@LeagueFreak) June 9, 2020
Are they going to wait until they get the wooden spoon to sack McGregor— Ali Melaiye (@AMelaiye) June 9, 2020
I guess some people just never learn. What's the definition of insanity again?....Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.— Rabbitohs-Forum (@RabbitohsForum) June 9, 2020
This defies all logic— David (@david19792010) June 9, 2020
Axing McGregor would have been very costly
Other fans, however, are fully understanding of the reasons why McGregor was spared the axe - considering the trying financial circumstances most clubs find themselves in at the moment and how much it would have cost to pay him out.
The only logic for sparing McGregor— Michael Chammas (@MichaelChammas) June 9, 2020
If Dragons sack him & pay out $1m, it goes in the football cap. That significantly reduces ability to attract a decent coach next year
2020 is a write-off, no matter who coaches. The longer he continues, the more they can spend on next coach
Most clubs are financially screwed atm so it makes sense to not sack McGregor, the board that kept extending him needs a harsher look at— Ash 116 23 50 🦈 (@a_lul38) June 9, 2020
Paul McGregor was always going to survive today’s meeting. He could have also taken the easy way out, stopped the bashing and taken his $1.2mil pay out. He won’t jump from a sinking ship, maybe it’s time the crew on board backed their words and showed their support. #NRL #RedV— Tim Robinson (@RobinsonTim11) June 9, 2020
"Although the board acknowledges the club's performances so far throughout 2020 have been unacceptable, we will continue to support Paul, his staff and the team through these tough times," Dragons chairman Andrew Gordon said in a statement.
"We are committed to Paul as coach of the St George Illawarra Dragons and look forward to seeing him right the wrongs of the opening month of the current campaign.
"We are a club that stands by our people when under pressure. This is a time for loyalty, strength and commitment from the players, coach, board and staff to improve."
McGregor is now charged with turning around their poorest season start since 2005. A loss against Cronulla on Sunday would make it their worst ever.
It comes on the back of the Dragons' 15th place finish in 2019, which was their lowest as a merged club.
After the Canterbury loss, McGregor said he would not quit but he would understand if the club's hierarchy decided to terminate his contract.
with Yahoo Sport staff