Balmain steamrolled by NRL

Balmain chairman Leslie Glenn says the foundation club has been “run over with a steamroller” by the NRL in a deal announced on Friday that will see them forfeit their joint venture partnership in Wests Tigers if they do not repay up to $5 million in loans to the governing body.

Change is afoot at Wests Tigers and both Mick Potter and Balmain are poised to be the victims.

The formation and announcement is likely to spell the end for the Tigers coach, with directors expected to receive a recommendation from chief executive Grant Mayer that Potter be sacked when they convene for the first time on Sunday.


The outlook is similarly dire for the Balmain Tigers. Wests Tigers’ new board includes NRL-appointed independents Marina Go, Rosemary Sinclair and Lucio Di Bartolomeo, as well as Wests Ashfield Leagues director Tony Andreacchio and Simon Cook. But there is no place for any delegates from the financially stricken black-and-gold joint venture partner.

It’s a snub that has upset Balmain officials but it is nothing compared to the pain that will be felt by the foundation club if they can’t find between $3.6 million and $5 million in the next 18 months.

The NRL is picking up the slack to support Wests Tigers while Balmain cannot, and they expect their money back. A deadline of March 31, 2016, has been set for Balmain’s debt to be settled with League Central. If they are unable to find the money, they will be forced to sell their shareholding in the NRL club within six months, or it will be bought by Wests.

Glenn, the Balmain chairman, was scathing of the NRL ultimatum and their absence on the new board, even claiming Balmain figures were pressed under duress into agreeing to an arrangement that looks certain to end their 106-year involvement in elite rugby league.

“We were threatened with losses of our houses and assets during the negotiations,” Glenn said. "We are very upset about it. We believe that it was unjust and unreasonable. We went into the negotiations in good faith and we feel that we were let down, to say the very least.

"We had been able to meet our financial obligations right up until recently when things became much tighter for us, but that was the moment when we were most vulnerable … Unfortunately the NRL, which has been extremely successful financially and able to help out the Titans, Newcastle and St George Illawarra, seemingly can’t help us out because we have the misfortune to be aligned with a very cashed-up outfit in Wests.

"If we can’t pay back that form of loan, that’s it for us. We’re a very significant foundation club with a great history and it would be a tragedy if that were allowed to occur.

“We really didn’t expect to be run over with a steamroller. We made two mistakes: we were poor, and we were naive and trusting of the assurances we received.”

An NRL spokesman said no threats were made against Balmain directors during negotiations. He said the obligations and risks of directors – including potential loss of personal possessions – were discussed.

“But this was done to inform directors of the law and not as any type of threat,” the spokesman said.

Stranded at at two temporary venues – Five Dock Bowling Club and Flemington – due to the Rozelle Village fiasco, the decline of Balmain Tigers Leagues Club has led them to the point of extinction. Their joint venture partners, and now the NRL, have subsequently had to prop up the club and, stripping the emotion away, the pragmatists will say of Balmain: if you can’t pay, you can’t play.

That was the theme from NRL chief executive Dave Smith on Friday. “The Balmain side, at this point, they’re not financial,” Smith said. “The minute they’re financial, the way that we’ve set the deal up, they have the ability to step in. We look forward to that being the case and the Balmain side being able to take up their two seats on the board.”

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Sell the share to Marvin and step away from first grade and concentrate on the kids… They’re done for, and continuation along this path just hinders the NRL team.

Typical of the NRL and Wests,when the money needed to be there early in the JV Balmain stood up and helped Wests,now if you look at it Wests want Balmain to disappear so they can take over because as I said before the Tiger logo is worth a motza to NRL and to Wests Ashfield and they know it,they are hoping Balmain can’t pay back within 18 months so they can feed off the carcus…

I hope I’m wrong,but I doubt it :bash

Bring back the Pies. Bye, bye Balmain. You were the ones that went with back-door Benny and ignored the Magpie help when offered.

True Tiger you might want to check your facts …Wests have always met their financial responsibility to the Wests Tigers joint venture since the very beginning…

Where have Wests said they want Balmain to disappear …All they want them to do is meet their financial obligations…Simon Cook is on record as stating that the Magpies will never come back and Wests Tigers are the future in the NRL…

Try to tack the emotion out of it

Blame Balmains favourite son, Benny….
…not Wests.

not trying to start any debate here, and if i do then please delete the comment.

but it seems to me that balmain helped out wests because it was in their best interests not because of some moral imperative to save a fellow foundation club. It was either help wests out and form a JV, or die along with souths and north sydney.

pHyr3 you are right in 1999 it went down like this…Wests only failed to meet 2 of the criteria set down for entry into the NRL,Balmain just made it by the skin of there teeth and the writing was on the wall for them as well…it was a mutually beneficial to both Clubs at the time to form a JV or they both would have been gone in 2 years,

Balmain had an offer on the table from Parramatta which was virtually a take over as Wests did with the Dogs…both clubs members voted to form the JV…they helped each other out…


Bye bye.

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Geo you could be quite correct,I’m saying at the beginning Balmain stood up and put in to help Wests to float the JV,now it seems when Balmain have been black balled Wests seem to want to stay clear of them,Wests probably don’t owe Balmain anything on their own,but as a partner you would think they may want to help them back on their feet…If Wests Tigers blossom with this new board,then all is good and let’s look to the future and may it be fruitful…Balmain have had some very ordinary people look after their interests apparently,and I don’t critise Wests at all for the Balmain poor choices,What I do think is Wests should try and stick by the partner best they can if it is viable,otherwise Balmain will be sunk… 😊 😊

Wests Ashfield offered to meet Balmain’s obligation for an extra seat on the Board earlier in the Year …Balmain rejected the offer and choose to go down the path of NRL funding to clear their debt to the JV…I dont know how Wests could have been more supportive of them…

When will you old hacks move on. I don’t understand why you care about this club if you don’t accept the present. I’m sick of this Wests v Balmain business. Balmain put themselves in this mess.

“we have the misfortune to be aligned with a very cashed-up outfit in Wests”

The misfortune?!?!? Yeah, were one club.
I dont wont balmain to die off but this clown and his like from both sides need to…

@Geo,ok now I understand what you are saying,in the end I hope Balmain fulfill their obligations and we stay as the JV was meant to be,thank you for being courteous in your answer.@azsportza,we are not old hacks some of us appreciate what we were bought up with,and are proud of our traditions,something you might want to think about.

Balmain will call on their fans to help set up a $2m fund as they prepare to go to war with the NRL
SEPTEMBER 06, 2014 12:00AM

NRL Boss Dave Smith announces the new West Tigers board at Concord Oval.
BALMAIN will call on their loyal fans to help set up a $2 million fighting fund as they prepare to go to war with the NRL to save 106 years of rugby league tradition.

On another day of high drama for the embattled club, NRL boss Dave Smith had barely finished announcing the make-up of the new Wests Tigers board when a new fight erupted over the decision not to give Balmain voting rights.

The new board consists of three NRL appointed directors while the Wests side of the joint venture have two votes.



The new West Tigers board, Lucio Di Bartolomeo, Tony Andreacchio, Marina Go, Rosemary Sinclair and Simon Cook at Concord Oval.
But because Balmain is $2 million in debt to the NRL their two representatives have no say and won’t even get a seat at the table when the new board meets for the first time tomorrow.

What’s worse for them, if Balmain don’t pay back the money they owe the NRL within two years Wests will be free to buy them out.

Long-serving Balmain board member Dr Leslie Glen admitted he felt “let down” by the NRL _ while Leichhardt mayor Darcy Byrne feared one of rugby league’s great suburban grounds could be wiped out in the restructuring.

“The NRL has already refused to give any guarantee about future games being played at Leichhardt,” Byrne said.

“If Dave Smith thinks he is going to do with Tigers fans what happened to North Sydney Bears fans previously he has got another thing coming.”

Daley Mail: Wests Tigers v Cronulla Sharks

Asked if he felt betrayed by the NRL, Glen added: “I think we have been let down.

“We failed on two counts. One that we are poor. And we believed in our naivety that the NRL would stand by a foundation club and one of the calibre of Balmain.

“We stood up for Wests in 1999 when they were shot in the water and the joint venture was formed then. We all supported Souths in reclaiming a place in the NRL.

“We stood by the ARL during the Super League war. I think we have earned a right to continue in the competition.”

But under the new restructuring they won’t have any representatives with voting rights until the $2 million is repaid.

Asked if he feared Balmain would struggle to find $2 million in time to save their history, Glen revealed that there would be a fighting fund launched on September 26 when past champions gather for the 25th year reunion of the 1989 Balmain grand final team.

Long-serving Balmain board member Dr Leslie Glen says the future of Leichhardt Oval is under threat.
“We are going to fight,” he said.

“I am in the process of contacting our members and fans to marshall as much support as we can.

“I am expecting there will be a great deal of anger about the way we have been treated.”

Both Glen and Byrne said they had no doubt the famous Tigers brand and Leichhardt Oval were in danger.

“I am not prepared to have 106 years of history and one of rugby league’s foundation clubs thrown out of the competition through the back door,” Byrne said.

“Tigers fans will be legitimately concerned that this is the latest manoeuvre aimed to make sure that the Balmain Tigers are no longer part of the NRL and that football is no longer played at Leichhardt Oval.

NRL Chief Executive Dave Smith on game’s future

“There is no guarantee that in five or 10 years time that the ARL Commission won’t have a bright idea to move the Wests Tigers to Perth and have six games at Campbelltown and six games at Perth with none at Leichhardt.

“The only safeguard against that is having Balmain Tigers representatives on the Wests Tigers board and that has just been abolished.”

The new three NRL appointed directors include two women in Rosemary Sinclair and Marina Go along with Lucio Di Bartolomeo, while the Wests representatives are Simon Cook and Tony Andreacchio.

Balmain has two board members in Mark Crowe and Danny Stapleton but as it stands they are powerless.

The new West Tigers board, Marina Go, Lucio Di Bartolomeo Tony Andreacchio and Rosemary Sinclair at Concord Oval.
The new chairman will come from one of the three NRL appointed directors.

Sinclair is a member of the Australian Communications and Media Authority and has a background in senior telecommunications while Go is the CEO at Private Media and will soon take up the role of general manager of Hearst Bauer Media.

Bartolomeo is the chairman of Macquarie Generation and non-executive director of Australian Rail Track Corporation.

Smith said he hoped Balmain would meet the deadline to repay the money.

“The way that we have structured the deal is that there is a two year option,” Smith said.

“We really hope and look forward to Balmain being able to take their seats on the board.

“They have been a part of the club or a long, long time.”

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