NRL throw Cronulla a finance lifeline

Cronulla Sharks Leagues Club SharkiesThe finance trouble surrounding NRL club Cronulla has seen the NRL offer an advance or effectively a ‘loan’ on their expected $3.5million grant for 2010 should the Sharks slip deeper into money woes.

NRL boss David Gallop was bunkered down with Sharks officials this week to gauge the situation and offer help if its required.

Club CEO Tony Zappia flagged potential problems for the club, with Cronulla seeking emergency financial loans over Christmas to assist with payments to staff and players.

In the past, Leagues Clubs were the ‘money fairies’ for Football Clubs, however with the earnings from Poker Machines virtually non-existent now the NSW State Government takes the lions share of earnings in state taxes, coupled with the economic crisis hitting the market – Cronulla and several other clubs are feeling the pinch.

Such is the dire state of things at Cronulla, they are believed to have approached the St George Bank for a $1 million loan, which was knocked back by the back, instead only confirming $500,000 could be lent. An amount that many couples or familes can obtain when securing finance for a house, but here we have a supposed large business unable to get more than $500,000 in borrowings?

With NRL boss Gallop realising the seriousness of the situation, he is now offering to “loan” some of the $3.5million grants to clubs before they are due.

Once again, Gallop needs to be commended for getting on the front foot and addressing the issue at hand. While Gallop and the NRL are constantly under-fire from various corners of the game, the games top man has steered the competition through some tough issues in recent years and there is definitely room for praise.

“From time to time we’ve agreed to advance clubs a portion of their annual grant (for the following season) and we are open to doing that now,” Gallop said. “Particularly at this time of the year, there are clubs with the same expenses but no income from gate receipts.

“There’s no doubt the economic downturn has the potential to have some impact on our clubs.”

Gallop wouldn’t describe the detail around the Cronulla assistance offering and Sharks CEO Zappia confirmed the clubis yet to sign off on such an offer.

“We haven’t said yes or no,” Zappia said. “I just wanted to speak to David about the possibility of the NRL providing more help. I don’t know if we will need it just yet.

“Our desire is definitely to get by without it, but there’s no question that the next three to six months will be very tough.”

Zappia said the Sharks haven’t sought additional loans recently and will do their best to cut costs. Small job losses are expected, but as it stands all wages are being paid by the club.

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