Kevin Crameri, the mayor of Penrith, has pledged to support the Panthers and their new stadium sponsor, which is a betting agency, despite the issue splitting Penrith City Council.

In what would be a landmark association for the NRL, with a betting agency involved with a club, the association will run for five years, and is valued at between $1.5 million to $2 million, with the deal close to coming into fruition.

Penrith Park, the temporary name until the deal with Centrebet is finalised, is expected to be re-named Centrebet Stadium in the near future.

An advertisement was published in the local Penrith paper, with a statement from the Panthers stating that the deal was yet to be finalised, after it was revealed that the name change would take place.

The Panthers are expected to make the announcement within the next two weeks, and they would be the first club to name their home ground after a bookmaker.

The previous deal with CUA expired in October, and negotiations have been ongoing by the Panthers as they draw closer and closer to finding a replacement.

Out of the 15 councillors from the Penrith City Council, 6 are Labor, 6 are Liberal, and there are 3 independents – all of which are divided morally on the issue, but the current Mayor Crameri, who is an independent, supported the move.

”I know three people who have got an account with Centrebet, out of all the people I know. In my view it’s not going to cause people to run out and get an account and start betting,” Cr Crameri said.

“Panthers [Leagues Club] is synonymous with poker machines; they’re one of the biggest clubs in Australia. I don’t believe myself that it will be a problem.”

The Panthers, who currently have a 20-year lease on the ground itself, which is owned by the State Government and the Penrith City Council, with the councillors powerless to prevent the NRL club from agreeing to the deal however.

”Within our council it was divided,” Cr Crameri said.

”Some people didn’t really care, some had a very strong view and we decided to take a position as such. It’s up to the Panthers what they call it because we don’t have the ability to stop them.

”We could put some moral pressure upon them but is it our position to actually do that? A vote wasn’t taken because there was division.”

An opponent to the the stadium being re-named Centrebet Stadium is Liberal councillor Mark Davies.

”For me, putting on my councillor’s hat, I’m probably not that really comfortable,” Cr Davies said.

”It’s not a comfortable fit. There was a general view [in council] that it’s not the ideal fit.”

Centrebet currently have sponsorships with several NRL clubs, including Manly, who only just recently signed a deal with Centrebet in December.

Ric Simpson, Panthers Group Chief Executive, defended the scheduled stadium change reported in the local paper.

“From our perspective Centrebet is already sponsoring Manly and they have not had a backlash from their fans at all,” Simpson said.

“We haven’t signed a contract yet so it is all a bit premature. But we certainly are in initial talks with them.”

By ricky

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