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Wests Tigers distance themselves from Rozelle Village court case


Adrian Proszenko and Lousie Hall


Sironon Photo: Getty Images

Wests Tigers chief Grant Mayer claims the joint-venture club is "not at risk" amid fresh fears the Balmain side of the joint-venture could fold.

The Balmain Tigers Leagues Club is expected to be placed into receivership on Wednesday after taking NSW Supreme Court action against Rozelle Village, a property developer attempting to transform the Tigers' Victoria Road headquarters.

The leagues club owes Rozelle Village approximately $8 million and has allegedly defaulted on a series of loans.

Justice Paul Brereton granted a 24-hour extension just as Rozelle Village was about to call in the auditors, but it appears to be a stay of execution.

Counsel for the leagues club, Robert Newlinds, SC, said the move could "potentially bring to an end an 108-year-old football club".

It also raises broader questions about the future of Wests Tigers, an uneasy alliance between the Balmain and Western Suburbs.

However, Mayer described the court case as being at "arm's length" from the NRL club.

"At this stage, there is nothing the Wests Tigers have to say regarding the situation," he said.

"It is a Balmain Leagues Club issue. Wests Tigers are represented on the board by Balmain Football Club, not the Balmain Leagues Club. Wests Tigers are not at risk."

The developments come at a delicate time given the factions were close to ratifying a historic corporate governance overhaul by the NRL.

Wests and Balmain agreed to a new model of seven directors – three of whom would be independent board members installed by the NRL.

The arrangement would mean the ARLC would cover Balmain's financial shortfall for the next two years but would lose its shares in the joint venture if it couldn't square the ledger within two years.

It's clear after Tuesday's events that will not be possible and that voting rights would also be lost, as there was no way of providing security against the money lent.

It was expected that the NRL would sign off on the new structure within a fortnight, although it's unclear if there will now be delays.

"The Wests Tigers are continuing to go through its governance reforms with the NRL and the two shareholders and we're confident of an outcome very shortly," Mayer said.

"We are completely isolated from the current court proceedings. Therefore to comment further would be irresponsible on my behalf.

"This is an arm's-length court case. We have no involvement with today's proceedings as it's a Balmain Leagues Club issue, not a Wests Tigers issue.

"I'm confident with the process we're going through with the NRL."

One of the safeguards in the deal with the NRL is that the Wests Tigers name will be retained.

While the NRL club will not be changed to Western Suburbs, there are fears the role of Balmain could be negligible.

Wests Ashfield Leagues club had previously sought control of the board in exchange for a $1 million cash injection to prevent Wests Tigers from becoming insolvent last year.

The failure of the leagues club development at Rozelle was one of the factors behind Balmain being burdened with a $9.5 million debt.

NRL boss Dave Smith has previously stated the new board structure could be a blueprint for how other clubs are run and other clubs have already had informal discussions with the league about their own models.

But fans of the Tigers – both the Balmain and Wests variety – will be concerned following the revelations.

40 comments so far

  • First newtown rugby league where sucked into the big black hole, never to return.
    Now it looks very much like it will be Balmain rugby league, going the way of newtown.
    It seems its just a matter of time.
    Balmain is not the place it once was.
    Great for sipping organic macrobiotic free-range early-harvest latte coffee, and weaving a basket, or two.
    Too soon to say it ? probably not.
    Thanks for the memories Balmain.

    Memories are made of this.
    Date and time
    March 18, 2014, 8:51PM
    • Its still the same old balmain.we just dont want 2 x 30 storey towers destroying our suburb.greedy developer has a lot to answer for...

      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 8:59PM
    • Newtown and now Balmain, the death of leagues clubs ain't mourned by all. Mines's a macchiato. Cheers.

      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 10:39PM
    • How would a couple of residential towers in an already highly developed area destory a suburb? It's 4km from the CBD!!!

      My god, it's no wonder we have a severe housing shortage in this city.

      Pointless NIMBYism.

      Everyone loses from this, wherther you realise it yet or not.

      Date and time
      March 19, 2014, 8:48AM
    • Memories etc., its been downhill for Inner West rugby league teams ever since the rot set in with Annandale's demise in 1920. The writing was on the wall even then! Balmain should have seen this coming.

      Annandale NSW
      Date and time
      March 19, 2014, 3:05PM
    • We need someone like russel crowe to buy the club so balmain leagues can live on. Fingers crossed for a celebrity miracle

      Date and time
      March 19, 2014, 11:41PM
  • If AFL had a heart, they ( swans & giants combined, perhaps ? ) could easily bankroll Balmain rugby league and rescue a bit of old Sydney's sporting history. Probably would have money left over as well ...
    They did, after all, show outstanding generosity to Izzy foulafou.

    Memories are made of this.
    Date and time
    March 18, 2014, 9:00PM
    • C'mon Memories. Were the NRL so generous about the AFL using Birchgrove Oval?

      When is Rugby League going to get rid of the knuckleheads who have interests in the game but no knowledge of running a professional organization. Rugby League is imploding and now that there is a bit of competition around, it is being shown up for the game it is - funded by poker machines and very little interest in it.

      Northern Beaches
      Date and time
      March 19, 2014, 10:05AM
    • Why would the AFL want to bail out a rugby league club?

      On the other hand, if Balmain or Wests Tigers goes under, there's a new sporting home for you. And they wear orange.

      Michael S
      Toongabbie, NSW
      Date and time
      March 19, 2014, 10:21AM
  • Geez Rugby League is going so well, Huge Crowds, Clubs with no money, Global World Cup.....

    Date and time
    March 18, 2014, 9:15PM

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