Promise not enough

Shellharbour City Sharks president Alan Cody in one of the grandstands at Ron Costello Oval. Picture: DAVID HALL

Shellharbour City Sharks president Alan Cody in one of the grandstands at Ron Costello Oval. Picture: DAVID HALL

SHELLHARBOUR City Sharks Rugby League Club has thrown their collective hands in the air in frustration after they believe they were left high and dry by the state government - thanks to the non-payment of a promised $25,000 grant to complete their grandstands.

Last year, then Minister for Sport and Recreation Graham Annesley promised the club the funds to complete their grandstands in time for the semi-finals, before he resigned from Parliament to take up the chief executive position at the Gold Coast Titans.

"I feel we have been led down the garden path," former club president Peter Blaine said.

"Mr Annesley promised us the money and we took him by his word and went and took a bank overdraft to get the roof on the grandstands finished.

"Illawarra Rugby League promised us the rights to host semi-finals last season if we had the grandstands completed.

"It was a case of 'damned if we do and damned if we don't' and now the club finds itself in a dire financial position because of it."

The situation became critical last week when the overdraft became overdue and the club's accounts were frozen. President Alan Cody had to go cap-in-hand to the Country Rugby League.

"I had a meeting with CRL CEO Terry Quinn and he came up with the $10,000 needed to clear the overdraft, but we are now living week-to-week, with little money in the bank and really need someone in the government to put their hand up and honour the promise," Cody said.

"We are selling pies at games to give us enough money to buy pies for the next game.

"Even if and when we were to get the money we have outstanding bills to pay, but at least we wouldn't have to worry about how we were going to pay bills and can move on."

He said South Coast Group 7 Rugby League general manager Jim McAuliffe had been sympathetic to the club's plight.

"We really were hoping to have this resolved before we went to the press, but enough is enough and it's time it came to light," Cody said.

Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson took the matter to State Parliament last week.

"Club officials acted in good faith on a verbal commitment from the former Minister," Ms Watson said.

"That good faith has been tested because the much-loved club is in danger of folding.

"We are not talking about millions of dollars; we are talking about $25,000.

"I again call on the Minister for Sport and Recreation to reconsider the representations made by me and by the Member for Kiama on behalf of the Shellharbour Sharks.

"I ask the Minister to help the local rugby league club get out of its current difficult financial position . . . the government has a moral obligation to do so."

Kiama MP Gareth Ward couldn't be reached for comment prior to the Lake Times' deadline.

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