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Clubs on Shute Shield warpath

Clubs on Shute Shield warpath



  3. SEPTEMBER 26, 2007 12:00AM

THE 13 Sydney Premiership club presidents have unanimously passed a motion of no-confidence in NSW Rugby as the governing body is poised to axe three sides from the Shute Shield competition next season.

It is understood the move to cut Illawarra, Southern Districts and Penrith is a result of measures to offset start-up costs of the new third-tier Australian Rugby Championship.

The motion, moved by Eastern Suburbs’ Steven Bartrop and seconded by Gordon president Graham Boyle, was carried 13-nil against chairman Arvid Petersen and his board.

The motion will be debated at NSW Rugby’s November board meeting.

“It is very unfair for the club presidents to blame the state of the game on my board,” Petersen said yesterday.

“To say we aren’t doing enough to promote the game in NSW is a very unwarranted criticism.”

Illawarra club president Terry Wetherall says he fears his club will be the first to be sacked.

“They changed the rules on us and now find ourselves not meeting the new criteria of fielding four grade and three colts sides,” Wetherall said.

“At this point in time Illawarra, along with Penrith and Southern Districts are the three most vulnerable clubs facing the chop.”

The three only won three games between them this season and Illawarra finished last.

“We could have gone a lot better on the pitch. Winning just one game doesn’t give us much of a case to stay in the competition,” Wetherall said.

In addition to three clubs being axed from the Shute Shield, Eastwood, in Sydney’s northwest, is in danger of being placed in receivership.

In a letter to members, president Bob Shield said the club has been given a deadline of October 15 or faces closing its doors.

In the letter to members, Shield made a plea for donations to help make up for losing major sponsor MHS Recruitment and Training. Shield claims the company owes the club $160,000.

“The (sponsorship) funding was vital to meet a range of current payment commitments as part of the normal operations of the club,” Shield said.

“The board could not allow the club to trade while insolvent. It would be a tragedy if the club was allowed to die.”

Club officials contacted by The Australian say the implementation of ARC has also had major implications across the country.

They say the implementation of the ARC meant less money in annual ARU grants.

“I was never in favour of the ARC the way it was presented to clubs,” GPS club general manager Rod Torkington said.

“It is no more than a Band-Aid solution that will not help the traditional clubs if the competition is allowed to continue next year under its present format.”

Torkington was supported in his assessment of the parlous state of the game by other key figures in Brisbane and Sydney. Nine of the 10 clubs in the Brisbane premier competition will record a loss or at best break-even.

Club officials claim the second-tier representative competition has no sound business plan.

Randwick chief executive John Dowling said his club will report a 39.67 per cent drop in turnover.

“The loss of trade this year is due to the changes of the Shute Shield and Tooheys New Cup as no games were scheduled at Coogee Oval over a 51-day period through the season.

“To put it bluntly, there isn’t a return on our investment if first grade does not play at Coogee,” Dowling said.

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