The Cronulla Sharks knew their finances were shot way back in 2005 writes Gavin Fox in Sydney, with the former football manager at the club Theo Burgess confirming the club walked away from a $10 million dollar NRL payout to move to Gosford and setup shop there several years ago.
It’s believed previous football manager Theo Burgess and GM Steve Rogers were keen to accept the deal, knowing the situation was dire at Cronulla, however the board thumbed their nose at the offer, killing off the deal.
In an interview with leading Rugby League magazine, RLW – Burgess confirmed the situation saying “The writing was on the wall back then!”
After some Sharks preliminary investigations, they believed that Gosford was the best option of all, the only one to keep the club as close to Sydney as possible.
Burgess went even further, suggesting the clubs negotiations may have yielded even more money from the NRL, possibly $12 million if they relocated the club way back in 2005.
After being knocked back by the Sharks board, Burgess believed the members were ‘in denial’ and was sure the club’s future was in serious doubt. Something that has now become a reality and the Sharks situation is extremely dire.
The Sharks situation now leaves them with much fewer options, they are riddled with debt and are not increasing income, or attracting any new revenue streams. On top of that, the Gosford locals have been vocal in saying they don’t want a ‘charity’ team relocating on to the coast and they have said they will not support such a team. The chance of additional funds from redeveloping land near Shark Park seems a long way off, with the club trying for decades to have this approved and ready for development – however the local council and economic crisis have put this on the back burner
Meanwhile, the NRL is quietly sitting back watching the progress. The National Rugby League did their bit, they offered (and still have on offer) big money for the Sharks if they relocate – however if the stubborness of the club continues, they will surely collapse and the banks will call in the debt sooner or later.
The NRL will have finally had a death through natural attrition, something predicted long ago. This opens the door to a new franchise, the likes of the Central Coast, Central Queensland, Wellington, Adelaide and Perth all coming on to the radar sooner rather than later.
In 2008, the Cronulla outfit dropped $1.4 million, and they have $12 million worth of debt that needs to be refinanced.
The NRL refused to offer any of the relocation fund to the Sharks if they only took 5 games to Gosford. Naturally, the NRL wants a complete relocation – not some half-baked idea of a few games here and there.
However, John Singleton and Bluetongue Stadium have agreed to pass $100,000 per game to the Sharks per game played there. Singo gets good advertising dollars for any games played at Gosford, not from bums on seats, but from increased TV exposure dollars. His singage adverts sold at the ground go up in value the more TV coverage they get.
The Sharks are getting offers from Adelaide to play games there, and have looked to move home games to other grounds where incentives are on offer.
All these are short term, hole plugging solutions. The hole needs repairing not plugging, and total relocation seems the only answer. The ‘head in the Sand’ approach again this time, will surely see the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks club wither away and die for good.