BATTLING ON: Northern United president Lester Moran,  back,  with new secretary Laurie Mercy and Wayne Caldwell, says the rugby league club is an essential part of the Lismore community.
BATTLING ON: Northern United president Lester Moran, back, with new secretary Laurie Mercy and Wayne Caldwell, says the rugby league club is an essential part of the Lismore community. Alison Paterson

Northern United to save their future

"IT'S not about winning, community is what we are all about, so it would be a sad day if we folded and never competed again, because it would be the community that would suffer.”

These strong words are from Lester Moran, president of financially troubled Lismore rugby league club Northern United, which came into the competition in 2009 and is made up predominately of indigenous players.

Ongoing financial problems have meant Northern United was stood down and is now unlikely to play in the upcoming Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League season.

But Mr Moran and two other club members, newly appointed secretary Laurie Mercy and Wayne Caldwell, are determined the club will survive and thrive and they met with The Northern Star yesterday to refute claims the club would fold due to owing a six-figure sum.

"The monies owed are around $29,000,” Mr Moran said.

"We need another $11,000 to pay club registration fees to the Country Rugby League and make outstanding payments to players still owed money from the previous season.

"There's $40,000 all up to start off clean and we are still negotiating with sponsors.

"It's gratifying how other sporting clubs have offered to sit down and help us work through these issues.”

Mr Mercy said the Dirrawongs recognised they needed a community member with strong financial skills to step up and help create strategies to give the club a strong future.

"We need some people with good financial expertise and ideas to join our board to work with us with on budgets,” he said.

The trio, who chalked up quite a few years playing themselves, said apart from the sporting aspect, Northern United provided a significant place in the community by providing positive role models, family support and working to raise awareness of and preventing domestic violence.

"One of our players said his parents never come down to watch him play, so we are his family,” he said.

"In the meantime (while not competing) we will be still be hosting community events such as the Timber Cup.”

Country Rugby League regional manager Kevin Hill said the CRL and the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League were prepared to assist the club rectify its financial problems.

"Then we can start working on preparations with the club for a financially stable re-entry into the 2018 NRRRL competition,” he said.



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