Manly Warringah Sea Eagles icon Ken Arthurson is in a state of bewilderment over the ‘ransom’ Warringah Council has placed on the Club in relation to Brookvale Oval hiring fees for 2016.
Arthurson, commonly referred to as ‘The Godfather’ of the Sea Eagles for his incredible service as a player, coach and administrator, was shocked to learn of the latest demands that Council has placed on the Club at a ground that they have called home since entering the then NSWRL premiership in 1947.
The Council has demanded the Sea Eagles commit to a one year agreement under the same terms as last season, terms that include a hire fee of over $40,000 per game and which are already deemed exorbitant by the Club and significantly out of alignment with benchmark rates for other suburban grounds.
Council has also recently drafted a casual hiring arrangement that would come into effect if the Sea Eagles refuse to agree to the one year agreement. This would see the Brookvale Oval hire fee increase to between $50,000 and $60,000 per game.
Ironically, the casual hiring arrangement applies to NRL teams only and has been described as discriminatory to rugby league by Manly Warringah CEO Joe Kelly. Other professional sporting teams are charged less than $1,000 to hire the same venue.
“It would be a terrible blow for me personally because I have always felt Brookvale Oval was our ‘Fortress’. To have to move our games from there would be very hurtful,’’ Arthurson said.
“I just can’t believe that they are so adamant about this. I mean (the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval) is one of the things that brings the Manly Warringah community together. It is just unbelievable, it really is.”
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. Council immediately rejected the proposal and have shown no appetite for negotiation.
Arthurson has called on Warringah Council Councillors to voice their own opinion about the hiring fees for the Sea Eagles.
“Each of the Councillors should come out and state what their thoughts and position is in relation to Brookvale Oval,’’ Arthurson said.
“I would have thought that the Mayor, Michael Regan, would have been one person totally behind the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
“I can understand that the Council needs to recover some of the costs for ground maintenance but to put the playing future of the district’s premier sporting team at risk is incredibly short-sighted.
“I think the Club and the Manly supporters should keep on fighting this battle. The council are just asking for ridiculous fees. It’s crazy.
“If they (the Council) are going to adopt this attitude, I think that the local constituents will throw them out of office. It is absolutely crazy that they are not prepared to negotiate.
“The Club has bent over backwards in trying to reach an amicable agreement with them. I think what the Club has proposed is more than fair and reasonable.””
The Club will launch a ‘Fight for Fortress Brookie’ campaign this Saturday, calling on the community including members, sponsors, supporters, local businesses, community groups and local residents to write to Warringah Council in protest.
Via Manly Sea Eagles