THE 2009 Lower Clarence Magpies celebrate after their grand final win.
THE 2009 Lower Clarence Magpies celebrate after their grand final win.

Magpies get financial help

THE Country Rugby League accepted a proposal from the Lower Clarence Magpies to give the club an interest-free loan so it would be able to trade out of its financial crisis, club president Ben Campbell said yesterday.

“I did toss the idea up to them,” he said . “I thought it didn’t have much chance of success, but I thought we may as well have a go.”

Mr Campbell said he and the CRL boss Terry Quinn and operations manager Bert Lowrie, who attended a crisis meeting at Maclean on Wednesday night, were impressed with the determination of the club and the community to get the team on the paddock in 2010.

“We’ve shown we were determined not to let this thing beat us,” he said. “The determination factor was a big part of the CRL decision to support us.”

Mr Campbell said the club’s participation in community programs like the Magpie Pilot Project and the Domestic Violence awareness project put the club in good stead with the CRL.

Mr Campbell is under no illusion about the problems still facing the club.

He said the CRL would require club members to guarantee the loan and there are also problems getting the club incorporated again after its de-listing in 2008.

The club’s honorary solicitor Mark Spagnolo said the club needs to become incorporated before it can begin trading. And it needs to have the CRL before it can satisfy some of the criteria for incorporation.

“The plan we have to move to incorporation has yet to be approved,” Mr Spagnolo said.

“But it needs to be done ASAP because the season is not far away.”

Mr Campbell said the club is waiting for the CRL to send the loan paperwork and would then begin moving on the incorporation as soon as they get an answer on the loan.

He said the club was grateful for the CRL’s help and realised it must have been a difficult decision.

“To be honest that’s put them in a hard position by helping us out,” he said.

“There must be plenty of clubs out there who have problems like ours. But that said, we’ve still got to come up with the cash to repay the loan.”

It’s a perception shared by the other two Clarence Valley rugby league clubs.

Grafton Rhinos president Tony Stackhouse said that while it’s good that the Magpies look like they will play in 2010, the CRL had difficult questions to answer.

“Why are the Magpies in so much debt?” he said.

“Have they looked at the administration of the club and the payments of players, compared to the club’s income and other expenditure?”

Grafton Ghost president Michael Rogan said he wondered how many other clubs would like to line up for an interest-free loan.

“Over the years anyone who’s been in rugby league would have been in a situation like this,” he said.

Mr Campbell was confident the Lower Clarence community would support its football team.

“The players will give 100 per cent every game,” he said.

“And I’m sure the supporters will come out to the game to watch their team no matter how they’re going.”

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