Panthers prepared to wait for Cleary: CEO

Matt Encarnacion
Ivan Cleary is yet to ask for a release amid reports he's interested in a Penrith return

Penrith are willing to wait two years for Ivan Cleary to serve the remainder of his Wests Tigers contract before welcoming him back, Panthers chief executive Brian Fletcher says.

The Panthers claim Cleary has signalled an interest in returning to the club to unite with son Nathan, but the Tigers insist they won't release him from his current deal.

Yet their emphatic stance has failed to deter Fletcher from expecting Cleary to go back to the club three years after being sacked.

"Everybody is of the understanding that the board, when Ivan is off contract, they would like him to be the coach at Panthers," Fletcher told News Corp Australia.

"(It's) a sensible thing, when he's off contract, if he'd like to come back here, and his son is still playing here, he would get the chance to coach him.

"Nobody would be hurt, no one would break contracts."

It's believed interim coach Cameron Ciraldo would remain in his caretaker role as the Panthers wait on Cleary to honour his contract at Concord.

The move comes after a day after Tigers chairwoman Marina Go said it "poor form" of Penrith to pursue Cleary while under contract.

As it stands, Cleary, who's yet to speak publicly on the subject, has yet to ask for a release.

Fletcher said the Panthers were prepared to have Ciraldo at the helm in the short term, with the recently retired Peter Wallace as assistant coach.

It's understood Panthers supremo Phil Gould and deputy chairman Greg Alexander would oversee the coaching structure.

"We could wait a year and a half. It wouldn't worry us," Fletcher said.

""Knowing Ivan's qualities, he will honour the contract but, then again, Wests Tigers might think that if Ivan wants to coach his son and his son is going to play at Penrith, they might let him go.

"But that's up to them. We're not there to pinch Ivan off Wests Tigers."