Penrith general manager Phil Gould is adamant the fridge, filled with the product of the club’s new sponsor OAK on game day, won’t be going anywhere, despite claims it encroaches on the rights of Telstra, the code’s naming rights sponsor.
Despite being wanted by the NRL for alleged crimes against major sponsor Telstra, the Penrith Panthers fridge was still standing proudly in the western Sydney club’s media centre.
In fact, if league boss David Gallop wants to get his hands on the controversial Kelvinator, he will now have to get past the burly minders of E-Group Security – a Sydney protection firm last night hired to guard said cooler around the clock.
“Yes, I’ve contacted E-Group security and asked them to protect Australia’s most valuable fridge,” Gould said.
“Head man is Sammy Chamoun. He’s our security bloke and has been charged with having someone guard the fridge 24 hours a day.
“I’ve also noticed all the Oak milk has been taken out since last weekend.
“I can assure you it will definitely be restocked in time for our next home game against South Sydney on Sunday week.”
Honestly, stories don’t get much better than this.
Yet it also means the NRL and Panthers general manager Gould are set for a bizarre showdown over sport’s most controversial white good since Chicago Bear William “The Refrigerator” Perry.
The NRL had reprimanded Penrith for using a fridge filled with Oak milk – the club’s new $2.9 million sponsor – as part of its press conference backdrop.
Staffers from League HQ even took the extraordinary step of emailing the Panthers to state that, as the fridge robbed Telstra – the game’s naming rights sponsor – of prime positioning on the backdrop, it would need to be removed before the next home match against Souths.
That won’t be happening.
In fact, the controversial fridge is set to feature an added presence – Sammy Chamoun, the retired Illawarra prop now employed to handle all security matters out west at Panthers.
“And I can assure you we’ll be throwing the equivalent of a second Penrith team behind this,” Chamoun joked.
“Our firm looks after politicians, elite athletes … the fridge will be receiving the same VIP treatment.”
The security move continues a hilarious chain of events that yesterday saw the Panthers receive a groundswell of support from league fans via Twitter and Facebook.
It’s understood sponsors from more than one rival Sydney organisation even contacted the club to praise the ingenuity of their marketing team.
Having ended an association with Sanyo that spanned 12 years in 2011, the Panthers signed Oak because of its neat fit with their aim to appeal to families in western Sydney.
by Buford Balony