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NRL warned not to leave Campbelltown for other codes

The Tigers celebrate a try at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday.

The Tigers celebrate a try at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images

Former Wests Magpies chairman Jim Marsden has warned the NRL not to leave Campbelltown to rival codes, as the game’s governing body refused to guarantee Wests Tigers would continue playing in the region.

Marsden and another ex-Magpies director, Daniel Watson-Hayes, responded to suggestions the club may abandon Campbelltown Stadium after posting a crowd of just 6456 for last Saturday night’s match against North Queensland by accusing the joint venture of neglecting the area for 15 years.

Jim Marsden.

Jim Marsden. Photo: Jeff de Pasquale

‘‘It is a build-up of frustration and people basically having a gutful of being neglected,’’ Watson-Hayes said. ‘‘I solemnly believe that the area has just said, ‘Stuff you, you call yourself Wests Tigers, you are based 60kilometres away, you turn up here four times a year and you have a retail outlet at Macarthur Square. If you think that is good enough, it is not.’’’

Despite no longer having any official role with the game, Marsden recently took NRL boss Dave Smith and Wests Tigers CEO Grant Mayer on a tour of the Macarthur region and outlined to them how the population was set to grow by about 120,000 within the coming decade.

While Campbelltown is considered rugby league heartland, Marsden said the Western Sydney Wanderers and GWS Giants were already making inroads.

‘‘It doesn’t have to be Wests Tigers – although obviously through my association with Wests Tigers and with Wests Tigers having their footprint here now, I believe that would be the way to do it – but rugby league should be taking advantage of the massive growth that is going to happen over the next 10 to 15 years,’’ Marsden said. ‘‘If rugby league doesn’t grab that then the Wanderers or GWS will.’’

However, an NRL spokesperson said the league would not direct Wests Tigers to continue playing games at Campbelltown Stadium.

‘‘It is a matter for the Wests Tigers to determine which venue they use against each team during the premiership season,’’ the spokesperson said. ‘‘The NRL will continue to do what it can to support the clubs to encourage crowds to attend games, no matter where they are held.’’

A new board comprising three NRL-appointed directors and two each from Wests and Balmain is expected to be established in the coming weeks as a condition of the $7million bail-out package Wests Tigers received from the league.

With Balmain effectively broke and Wests Leagues Club at Campbelltown recently pulling funding for the joint venture, Watson-Hayes said he understood Wests Tigers had to ensure their financial viability. But Watson-Hayes pointed out crowds at Campbelltown had been in steady decline since 2011 and compared the mood in the area to that in

Gosford when Central Coast Bears fans boycotted Northern Eagles games because of Manly’s dominance of the now defunct joint venture.

‘‘They basically did not want to support a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing and the people of the Campbelltown-Macarthur region are doing the same thing,’’ he said. ‘‘They don’t want a rebadged Balmain, they don’t want a team who turns up here four times a year, they want their own team.’’

Watson-Hayes feels so strongly about the issue, he has written a lengthy article headlined ‘‘A region neglected: How the West was lost’’ for rugbyleaguehub.com.

Marsden questioned the number of non-Sydney teams that played at Campbelltown and said it was ridiculous to compare the 16,000 crowd that attended the previous weekend’s match against Manly at Leichhardt Oval with the turn out last Saturday night.

He also predicted Mayer’s comment that the round-11 match against Brisbane was ‘‘the last throw of the dice’’ for Campbelltown to show they supported Wests Tigers would backfire.

‘‘They are fighting words,’’ he said. ‘‘If you say that to any Australian, they’ll tell you to stick it up your arse.’’

 

52 comments so far

  • It's real shame Jim Marsden isn't the CEO of Wests Tigers, because he understands the frustrations of Campbelltown based fans. Oh well. In any case, if the Wests Tigers pull out of Campbelltown I won't be an NRL fan anymore. Shame on the Wests Tigers and the NRL.

    Commenter
    David
    Date and time
    April 14, 2014, 10:54PM
    • Finally got to the right point near the end of the article. Wests vs Manly on a Sunday arvo up against Wests vs Cowgirls on a Saturday night.
      You are not comparing apples with apples

      Commenter
      Franky
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 15, 2014, 12:57PM
    • The smallest NRL crowd of 2013 was a bit over Five Thousand, and it was at Leichardt Oval in a fixture very similar to last weekend. And yet, Balmain seems to have a few more rolls of the dice left up their sleave it would seem as they largely escaped such criticism! However, I cannot agree that by leaving Campbelltown you are simply serving the region up to rival codes on a platter. Perth hasn't had an NRL team for well over a decade, and yet there is a thriving market and RL interest there despite being 3 time zones away from the closest NRL team. Any self respecting fan in Campbelltown who actually values the game would not adopt an entirely different sport and team just because they have to travel 60km, and if thats the way it is, so be it - the game would do well to rid itself of such thickleness.

      Commenter
      Friendly_Raptor
      Date and time
      April 15, 2014, 6:52PM
    • Thank god David he isn't otherwise we would be in a worst position then we are already.. If that side of the merger doesn't get there own way they winge & throw in the towel... This great game survives on hard work and a never die attitude..

      Freedy, you are partially right.. The crowed was 5648 against melb on 29 June 2013 but leichhardt had a similar response.. Get out there all loose your ground..

      At the end of the day the team needs all our supporters, they need to be playing in front of fans not empty seats regardless of were they play otherwise they take games to stadiums where it wont cost them money..

      Commenter
      WT 4 Ever
      Date and time
      April 16, 2014, 9:04AM
    • That game you refer to against Melbourne was played in torrential rain. Conditions fine on Saturday night....

      And what side of the merger. When people stop thinking there are sides to the merger, perhaps the club will do a little better attracting people to its games

      Commenter
      Ash
      Date and time
      April 17, 2014, 8:39AM
  • Look, Marsden’s EMPTY words mean nothing. Either there are people at the games or not. The bottom line is, it is a poor area, too far from every other Clubs in Sydney so even all Sydney team’s supporters are not interested to go there.
    I lived there in the 80’ and 90’s, the most undeveloped, boring suburbs nearby, will take around 25-30 years before people can afford to go to NRL games.
    By the way, nobody interested in other Codes, Marsden’s threat is hollow, and he sounds like a boring politician. Puhlease, ignore the bloke.

    Commenter
    North of the Tweed
    Date and time
    April 14, 2014, 10:59PM
    • Campbelltown is a poor, low socio-economic area. It is just a sign of Australia's poor economic status and high youth unemployment that only 6000 turn up to watch NRL, especially when they can watch it for free at home or in their local. Plus add the high cost of food and beverages at the grounds and the high price of tickets.....Wests at campbelltown is doomed unless the NRL steps in and starts to subsidise the price of tickets and needs to give more value to going to games such as putting on post match entertainment eg a band on the ground after the match.

      Commenter
      Russell S
      Date and time
      April 15, 2014, 12:29AM
      • Hi Russell, your right but Wests has a heap of $$$ according to themselves and all there fans, they need to take ownership of there side of this merger.

        Commenter
        WT 4 ever
        Date and time
        April 15, 2014, 9:43AM
    • Daniel Watson Hayes is a paid up Melbourne Storm member - why is that not disclosed in the article?

      Commenter
      Alan
      Date and time
      April 15, 2014, 1:59AM
      • I don't get this "rival code" mentality. All sporting codes in Australia are registered Not-For-Profit organisations, they are sporting entities with a business model so that they remain financially viable. Every sporting code should be riding on the coat tails of the other code to gain maximum exposure for themselves. This does not mean creating one-up-manship, rather saying we support AFL or A-League in our town, and while you are here come and see our great game.

        Commenter
        Confused
        Date and time
        April 15, 2014, 6:54AM

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