Garry Anderson.
Garry Anderson.

Could money woes kill off Magpies?

OUTGOING Magpies boss Garry Anderson says his club is strong enough to survive the speculation surrounding the defending Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League champions.

The Examiner understands gossip around Anderson’s departure and murmurs of the Lower Clarence’s dire financial situation have surfaced in recent weeks.

Some corners have even mentioned the possibility of the club winding up due to the woes. But Anderson, who last week handed the reins as club president to Ben Campbell, says his club will fly in the face of the talk. However, he did concede the Magpies must tackle debts that roll over into each season.

“It rolls over and it all extended from the year 2001 when the Magpies folded,” Anderson said.

“From then we have progressed and formed a committee and have been rolling for a few years. We have never extinguished that debt and it’s been snowballing.”

In 2010 the club has already cut back on the number of ‘marquee’ players, as Anderson calls them.

Debate remains whether the decision to sign just three higher-profile imports – down from the ‘seven or eight usually’ – is due to the increase in junior stocks or the additional financial costs involved.

“The costs are there in running a club and it’s an historical rule of thumb that to win a grand final it costs you a lot of money,” he said.

“It’s a very, very locally organised club which is great.”

Anderson says the rumours are a matter of misunderstanding rather than any sounding death knell. A meeting, chaired by NRRRL regional manager Kevin Hill, will be held tonight at 6pm at the Jim Thompson Pavilion, Maclean Showgrounds.

“It’s a matter of picking up more people to take the club ahead,” Anderson said. “I will be opening the meeting and squashing the rumours. Anyone with any concerns with the rumours that we are folding should attend. I don’t care who has got a question: I’ll answer it.”

A Magpies’ Life Member, Anderson has recently accepted a job as secretary manager of the Ballina Seagulls Leagues Club. But the decision to walk away from the club is work related and not a chance to fly a falling nest, according to Anderson.

“I knew people would take the timing the wrong way,” he said.

“It is nothing to do with rugby league, it’s an opportunity to move forward in my life. The only thing that has come into play now are the rumours. Because I have left the club doesn’t mean the club will fall in a heap - we are in a transition period.”

Incoming president Campbell will be forced to step straight into the Magpies’ hot seat and faces a tough initiation.

The chances of Lower Clarence folding remain slim but Campbell admits ‘stranger things have happened’.

“If the rumours are true I’m very concerned but we have to sit down and find out what is the truth,” Campbell said.

“There are a lot of figures being thrown around. I’m just going through everything at the moment.

“A lot of things I have been totally unaware of. I would like to think that there is not (a chance of folding) but we would have to see.”

When contacted by the Examiner NRRRL president Robin Harley admitted he was aware of the Magpies’ purported financial dramas.

But any investigation remains at a base level with further details to emerge from tonight’s meeting.

“At the finish of every year all clubs are ordered to tender a financial statement,” he said. “The questions are being asked because there has been a change of officials. The indications we have been given are that they will continue on.”

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