Rugby League fans in the Macarthur region could have a team to call their own — finally.
With the prospect of the Wests Tigers licence reverting to Western Suburbs due to
the Balmain side of the joint venture being unable to repay its debt to the NRL, the door is open for the team to return to the Macarthur region on a more permanent basis on the field.
However there is no chance of the Wests Tigers joint venture going back to the Western Suburbs name, black and white colours or magpie mascot due to a heritage deed in the club’s constitution.
Wests Ashfield CEO Simon Cook said a decision about where the club played its games would be up to the re-formed board.
“It’s a decision for the Wests Tigers board,” he said.
“I wouldn’t want to speculate on that at this point.
“Campbelltown is and always will play a huge role for the Wests Tigers club.
“The whole south west of Sydney, including Campbelltown is extremely important to Wests Tigers.’’
Former Western Suburbs chairman Jim Marsden said an increase of games at Campbelltown should happen if the licence were to revert to the Western Suburbs.
“That’s the way it should be,” he said.
“My view is the more games played at Campbelltown the better, provided the games are within the limitations of Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
“For bigger games, and there will be bigger games as the team wins more, those games should be played at a bigger stadium.
“I’d even keep Leichhardt Oval in the mix for historical purposes, but it would only be for one game.”
While there is the possibility of an increased on-field presence in Campbelltown, Mr Cook was quick to pour water on the possibility of a return to the Magpies brand or black and white colours returning.
He said there were no circumstances under which the Wests Tigers brand would or could be changed.
“The club won’t revert to the magpies,” he said.
“There is a heritage deed in place protecting the club’s name and colours which doesn’t cease to exist regardless of who is in control of the club.
“The ability of the club to rebrand is not commercially viable.”
Mr Marsden said while it was sad to see Balmain struggling financially, he too wouldn’t want the club to abandon the Wests Tigers brand.
“If the licence reverts to Western Suburbs, so be it,” he said.
“If that occurs I would think the club would continue as is.
“Wests Tigers is a brand and a successful brand and it should remain in place whoever ends up with the licence.”
Under the NRL’s lending agreement, the thriving Wests Ashfield club would take full control of the joint venture if Balmain can’t raise the money by March 31 or sell their share within six months.
“Whatever happens, the Wests Tigers brand won’t change,” said Mr Cook.
“We’re having constructive conversations with Balmain and the NRL right now to try to find a solution.”