Penrith Panthers confirm Phil Gould's departure

Phil Gould Matt King/Getty Images

Penrith Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher last night confirmed the departure of general manager Phil Gould.

In a statement released by the club, Fletcher thanked Gould and said the terms surrounding the end of his tenure are yet to be determined.

"This morning Panthers Chairman Dave O'Neill and myself met with Phil Gould to discuss his position at the club," Fletcher wrote.

"Phil was adamant that his position as Executive General Manager Rugby League has become redundant and his time at Panthers is at an end.

"While there will be opportunity for further reflection once matters are formalised, I wish to acknowledge the extraordinary impact Phil has had on this club since returning as Executive General Manager in 2011.

"The Panthers Board will meet tomorrow to discuss the potential terms of Gould's departure from Panthers."

Gould said yesterday it was his decision to step down and backed coach Ivan Cleary as the future of the NRL club.

Gould felt his role had become redundant, with the Panthers in a strong financial position and the team playing finals.

"The decision hasn't been made exactly when this will take affect. Maybe the end of year or a couple of months, but I recommended we do it sooner rather than later," Gould told Nine News.

"I've always maintained this position wasn't going to be around forever and I just see the club in such a strong position at the moment.

"We have the right board of the directions, the right management, the right coaching staff."

Gould was often criticised for his failure to deliver on his 'five-year plan' and win a title during his time in Penrith.

He has long maintained the club never had an official policy of the kind however there's little doubt he leaves the club in far better shape than when he arrived in 2011.

"I'm not so worried about the premiership, our initial goal was long-term survival and financial stability," Gould said.

"The club has got a very strong financial base at the moment and a long and sustainable future."

Gould's position appeared untenable after cracks in his relationship with Cleary began to appear.

After Cleary returned to the club in the off-season following Anthony Griffin's sacking, Gould had a reduced role in the running of the football department and the team.

Their relationship was already strained after Gould sacked Cleary as coach three years ago, famously declaring that he looked "tired".

Gould had attempted to recruit seven-time premiership winner Wayne Bennett as Griffin's successor but was overruled by the club board.

"(That has) absolutely nothing to do with this decision, Ivan is the right coach for the club going forward," Gould said.

After winning the grand final in one of Australian rugby league's great fairytales in 2003, the Panthers spent a decade in the wilderness and were considered an NRL basketcase.

From 2005 to 2013 they made the finals just once and collected the wooden spoon in 2007.

Gould, one of the game's most powerful figures and prominent media commentators, transformed the vibrant league nursery into a consistent finals side.

They have reached at least the second week of the finals in four of the previous five seasons.

Gould was the driving force behind the construction of the Panthers' $22 million academy which is the envy of most clubs in the league.

After a successful playing career with the Panthers, Newtown, Canterbury and South Sydney in the 1970s and 80s, Gould found immediate success as a coach.

He won titles with Canterbury in 1988 and Penrith in 1991 and remains NSW's most successful State of Origin coach.

After becoming coach of the Blues in 1992, he took the side to three straight series wins for the first time.

Over two stints from 1992-96 and 2002-04, he won six series with one draw and one loss.