7 December 2018

Canberra Raiders slapped with $150k fine for moving NRL game to Wagga Wagga

| Lachlan Roberts
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The Raiders have been fined for hosting the Penrith Panthers in Wagga Wagga in the fifth round of the 2019 season. Photos: Supplied by Canberra Raiders.

The Canberra Raiders have been slapped with a $150,000 fine for taking a home game outside the ACT border next season due to their current contract with the ACT Government.

ACT Sports Minister Yvette Berry has decided to enforce the contract terms to play all home games in the nation’s capital, which includes a fine if matches are moved away from the venue.

The Raiders’ 10-year deal with the government to play home games at GIO Stadium states the club has to pay $150,000 in damages for every home game played away from GIO Stadium, and the ACT Government has decided to enforce the fee.

The decision to impose the fine has been met with displeasure from across the border given the NSW government committed $4 million to a Raiders Centre of Excellence in Braddon. The funding helped the club build a $19 million facility at Northbourne Oval which will also serve as a hub for the surrounding region.

The Raiders will host the Penrith Panthers in Wagga Wagga in the fifth round of the 2019 season after the club signed a two-year deal with the Wagga Wagga City Council to bring NRL matches to the ‘City of Good Sports’.

The agreement will see the Raiders send one of their 12 home games to the Riverina during the 2019 and 2020 season, as the club looks to reconnect with its Riverina fan base, but the decision has hit the back pocket of the club.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro took to Facebook to share his displeasure with the ACT Government’s decision.

“The ACT Labor Government need to realise the ACT isn’t an island. The Raiders are the NRL team for thousands of fans in Southern NSW,” he said.

“If this is how the ACT Labor Government is going to treat the Raiders and their fans, then maybe it’s time to start thinking about bringing the Raiders back to Seiffert Oval and the investment it would take to make that happen.”

ACT sports minister Yvette Berry said the fine had to be imposed for moving an allocated home game from Canberra.

“The ACT Government values its longstanding relationship with the Raiders and the benefits they bring to the Canberra community, including the major cross-border investment for the new Canberra District Rugby League Centre of Excellence and Community Hub,” she said.

“Although we support the intent of the Raiders in reaching out to the broader region, it is a requirement of our funding agreement that they play each home NRL game at GIO Stadium given the major investment the ACT community makes in both the stadium and the team.

“I have informed the Raiders that the government will be enforcing the terms of the agreement.”

The Canberra Raiders are working towards a new agreement with the ACT Government regarding home games as the club looks to find the perfect balance to please both regional and local Green Machine fans.

The decade-long deal expires at the end of next season and Raiders’ chief Don Furner said he will sit down with the government to plan a new deal which may remove the clause about playing all 12 matches in the capital.

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Capital Retro9:30 am 09 Dec 18

The “sell-out AFL games at Manuka” is a bit disingenuous too because hundreds, if not thousands of the tickets are free.

This used to be called “window-dressing”.

I’m all for Government bashing of all types at the best of times, but its hardly a ‘fine’, rather simply enforcement of existing contractual terms, freely entered into by the Raiders. They knew that the ACT Government would have the right to impose the $150K fee, if they chose to move a game in 2019. Yet the Raiders still went ahead and did it.

A prudently run organisation would of actively engaged with the Government prior to making that decision to move the game, and came up with a way to come to a better outcome for the club. But by all appearances it looks like the raiders simply thought they’d march right ahead then try to railroad the Government afterwards. A risky approach in my opinion given, as this article and others state, their current agreement runs out at the end of next year.

I have no issue with the Raiders moving a home game each year – I don’t think that is unreasonable. But its a bit rich to whine about then having to pay a fee they knew all about, in a contract they agreed to, because they had chosen to break those contractual terms. So they get no sympathy from me on this one.

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