Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have refused to accept Warringah Council’s ultimatum over Brookvale Oval hiring fees for the coming season.
Sea Eagles CEO Joe Kelly said it is now reaching a flashpoint with the Club receiving demands impossible to even contemplate.
“We have proposed a hire fee figure three-times the benchmark being paid by other NRL Clubs utilising superior suburban grounds, including the offer to maintain the surface at our own cost to ensure it meets NRL standards. But once again any proposal put to Council has been quickly dismissed,’’ Kelly said.
“It’s time Warringah Council placed the sporting spectator and Northern Beaches participant’s safety and welfare ahead of their cost recovery approach to Brookvale Oval.
“It’s very apparent that Warringah Council give no consideration to the Club’s community service and goodwill on the Northern Beaches, not to mention the positive effect of having an NRL team in their backyard. We believe that Council are using the Sea Eagles as a cash cow for a venue that is open to the public for no less than 355 days per year.”
The Sea Eagles use Brookvale Oval for 10 games per season and a weekly Captain’s Run. The rest of the year it is open to the community for recreational use.
Warringah Council has demanded that the Sea Eagles commit to a one year agreement under the same terms as last season, terms that were already deemed exorbitant by the Club.
· Council recently drafted a casual hiring arrangement that would come into effect if the Sea Eagles refuse to agree to the aforementioned one year agreement. This would balloon the Brookvale Oval hire fee to between $50,000 and $60,000 per game. This applies to NRL teams only and it’s evident that it was specifically written for Manly, with CEO Joe Kelly deeming it discriminatory to rugby league. The Club has referred this matter to their legal representatives.
· Other professional sporting teams are charged less than $1,000 to hire the same venue.
· It should be noted that there is no current dispute over payment of monies owed for the 2015 season. Council and the Sea Eagles have reached an agreement over payment terms.
· The Sea Eagles had put forward an alternative proposal to Council that is significantly beyond current rates paid by other NRL teams for superior suburban grounds. The Club offered to take on the management and cost of the Brookvale Oval playing surface and surrounding grass hills for 365 days per year, as well as all match specific expenses such as utilities and waste. Council immediately rejected the proposal and have shown no appetite for negotiation.
· Council had refused to discuss terms for the 2016 season despite Manly’s requests going back as early as May 2015. Council tabled terms on 4 January, eight weeks prior to the kick off of the 2016 season, effectively holding a gun to the Sea Eagles’ head.
· It’s become evident that Warringah Council want the Sea Eagles out of Brookvale Oval, but the Club refuse to walk away. Warringah Council have attempted to force the Club into a process where there is no ability to negotiate.