Clock ticks on club’s chance to regain competition spot
WEDNESDAY 2.55pm: TIME is ticking for Northern United to regain its place in this year's competition.
Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League president, Robin Harley said the Country Rugby League and the Northern United must prove in the coming days if the club meets the criteria to participate in the competition.
That criteria mainly involves implementing effective governance strategies and ensuring financials are in order.
Mr Harley said Northern United owe debts to about five businesses as well as Lismore City Council.
The council's Finance Manager Rino Santin said they "have been working with Northern United to get the debt paid but have been unsuccessful at this stage.
"A report was scheduled for an upcoming Council meeting, however, Northern United have yet to provide the detail requested for us to finalise that report. We expect to receive that information shortly."
Mr Harley said the decision to stand down the club was not made lightly.
"It's a difficult situation, we don't take any joy in having to take this step," Mr Harley said.
"We'd prefer not to do this."
Mr Harley said it's in the hands of Northern United to find a constructive way forward for the future of the club.
"It's entirely up to them about how they move forward," Mr Harley said.
He acknowledged the club's dedication to overcoming their governance and financial woes.
"I believe they're trying but they haven't got it right yet," Mr Harley said.
Mr Harley said governance issues are curtailing Northern United from moving forward to become a successful club.
Northern United coach, Djaan Jarrett said it would be a great shame if the club can't compete this year.
He said at this late stage in the pre-season, it would be extremely difficult for the players to join the ranks of other teams.
In the meantime, Mr Jarrett isn't giving up hope and it's "business as usual" in regards to training.
The inability to compete has wider implications such as a lack of social integration for the players, Mr Jarrett said.
"If you take that away they've got nothing," he said.
Mr Jarrett commended the board and others for "working their guts off" to keep the club afloat.
"Our club stands united," Mr Jarrett said.
WEDNESDAY 11.30am: EFFORTS are underway to keep the embattled Northern United rugby league club in this year's NRRRL competition.
Country Rugby League regional area manager Kevin Hill confirmed he is assessing documentation submitted by the cash-strapped club to determine if it satisfies the criteria to enable the club to re-enter for the upcoming season.
Meanwhile, Mr Hill said Lismore City Council and Northern Rivers Rugby League are among a handle of businesses left in the lurch due to the club's financial woes.
Although Mr Hill couldn't confirm the exact number of businesses affected he said it was less than 10.
Speculation the club's debt bill is a six-figure sum is incorrect according to Mr Hill.
Mr Hill said CRL had "endeavoured to assist the club over the past two years".
He said CRL executives had worked closely with Northern United to ensure "their governance and financial management up to speed."
"They haven't been as proactive as we would have liked," Mr Hill said.
Former player, Chris King criticised the CRL for not stepping in sooner to assist the embattled club.
"It's the CRL's fault for letting (Northern United) get that deep into debt," Mr King said.
Mr King is one of two former Northern United players who are yet to be paid due to a botched Country Rugby League contact application by old management in 2015.
NRRRL's decision to stand the club down from competition doesn't come as a surprise to Mr King, who said he considered the decision as a win for unpaid players like himself.
"If they can't pay players then shouldn't be allowed to play because of their outstanding debt," Mr King said.
Mr King said the indigenous community and the local competition are the biggest losers in the club's tensions with CRL and NRRRL.
"It's sad for the local competition and the indigenous community," Mr King said.
Northern United president Lester Moran declined to comment.
WEDNESDAY 5.30am: FINANCIAL issues and ongoing debt has seen Northern United stood down and likely rubbed out of the upcoming season in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
Country Rugby League stepped in and made the call after the Dirrawongs met with NRRRL management on Monday night.
"We've been working with them since November and at this stage they will not be part of the competition this year," NRRRL president Robin Harley said.
"There was certain criteria they had to meet and they still have debt to us (NRRRL) and other local businesses that need to be paid.
"They have not fulfilled the three requirements that were set and until they have something in concrete we will not be able to move forward.
"We expect a bit of backlash and it's obviously something that we did not want to see happen.
"But this almost happened this time last year and it has been an ongoing issue."
Northern United came into the competition in 2009 and is made up predominately of indigenous players.
Club president Lester Moran declined to comment on the situation yesterday until he received a response from an email sent to CRL regional area manager Kevin Hill.
Meanwhile, Harley is optimistic that this is not the end of the road for the Dirrawongs.
"The ball is in their court and they are the ones who can fix it," Harley said.
"There are so many governance issues in running a club these days and we couldn't let it keep going the way it was.
"The (NRRRL) draw has not been finalised yet and we can still slot them in if they come up with a solution."
United reached the grand final in 2009 and have played semi-finals a handful of times since.
Dual rugby league and rugby union international Andrew Walker and former South Sydney winger Roy Bell have played for the club in the past.
Lower Clarence and Mullumbimby are rejoining the competition this season after both sat out last year due to lack of players.