Man U over gallery – it’s political football

THE NSW government is under attack from an councillor about spending $3 million on a one-off Manchester United soccer exhibition match rather than funding Albury’s art gallery redevelopment.

Cr Henk van de Ven said bringing the soccer superpower to Sydney was a “bloody disgrace” at a time when it continually stone-walled the art gallery upgrade.

The state government has argued that the visit in July will pour $16 million into the economy, but Cr van de Ven questioned where that money would suddenly materialise.

Albury Council has committed $3.5 million for the project, as has the federal government.

“The art gallery is going to be here for a lot longer than Manchester United, for goodness sake,” Cr van de Ven said.

“Who is going to remember what the score was 12 months after they have gone?

“It is just inconsistent political b-------.

“They just can’t keep hiding behind the banner of we have got no money when they can find $3 million for a one-off soccer match which is not going to do anything for anybody long-term.

“It is about time our mayor Alice Glachan also criticised a Liberal government for non-action on this issue.”

The art gallery will deliver both short and long-term benefits to Albury and the region, according to the council.

These include $27.6 million in the construction phase, $1 million a year in employment in the arts and almost $10 million a year to city businesses from more visitors.

Cr van de Ven said the member for Albury Greg Aplin had “tried his best” to open doors within his party for the state’s share of funding for the project.

But Mr Aplin said the Manchester United visit and the art gallery were separate issues.

“It’s a world game and we would love to get to Brazil for the next World Cup,” he said.

“My main aim is to get the art gallery funding as a commitment in the future.

“We’ve been told there is no money for it at present.”

A federal government spokesman said last night: “This gives a whole new meaning to political football.

“NSW must commit to its piece of the partnership and fund the gallery redevelopment.”

Albury United goal-keeper and Manchester United fan Marty Chambers said he would prefer sport over art any day.

“I used to like the arts when we did it at school, but not any more,” he said.

“Australians are just sports fanatics.”

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