Sports label stitched up as No.1 worth $46.2m

ON the field the Penrith Panthers are a work in progress.

A team that is building with the help of a prolific junior league nursery.

Off the field, the Panthers are thriving.

A market leader. A powerhouse. And now, officially, No.1.

The club was recently named Australia's most valuable sports brand for 2013, valued at $46.2 million.

In a study by Brand Finance and Landor Associates, the club finished ahead of AFL powerhouse Collingwood ($39.1 million) and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs ($34.5 million) to nab the top spot.

Head of business development for the Panthers Group Justin Pascoe said the secret to their success was the result of an increased engagement with the fans and the community .

"Our ethos as a club is all about football, the game and community and we haven't altered from that," Mr Pascoe said.

"We are very excited as a group to be named number one.

"We have spent a lot of time trying to change the brand and image, and to have come out on top against the likes of Hawthorn and Collingwood is a testament to what we have done in the past 12 months."

The high valuation, some $7 million more than its nearest rival, comes as a result of the synergy between the Panthers Group businesses and the NRL team to create a core module for success.

A model that is only going to get stronger.

Panthers rugby league executive general manager Phil Gould foreshadowed that by 2016 Panthers will be just starting to reach their potential.

It's the same year the state-of-the-art Western Sydney Sport and Community Centre is expected be completed. That is to include the NRL Academy and Elite Learning Centre.

The next step is success on the field.

"Ivan would say we haven't created success until we are in a position to compete for the premiership regularly," he said.

"Not just once, like we have done and be in exile for 10 years, but being able to compete year in and year out is the key onfield goal," Mr Pascoe said.

"Usually you rely on on-field performance to translate to off-the-field success in terms of business, but now we have a little bit of equilibrium, which is good and is a big help."

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