BAR BRAWL: Fight erupts over booze sales at AFL game

WANGARATTA Magpies Football-Netball Club is seething about missing out on lucrative alcohol sales at the AFL game at its home ground in February next year.

Wangaratta Council elected to call for tenders for the provision of alcohol and food at the Collingwood-Richmond clash at Norm Minns Oval.

The Magpies were yesterday awarded the food rights, but missed out on the more profitable booze sales to two Ovens and King league clubs, North Wangaratta and Tarrawingee.

Wangaratta Rovers, who co-catered with the Magpies for the AFL game this year, which attracted 11,000 fans, have missed out altogether after tenders were assessed by a council panel late Thursday.

Magpies president and former Wangaratta councillor Col McClounan said future upgrades at the ground would be stalled as a result of missing out on the cash injection from the AFL game.

Under licensing arrangements, the Magpies can’t hold a function in their social rooms on match-day and serve alcohol.

“It doesn’t make any sense to run it this way,” Mr McClounan said.

“It is a premier facility and still needs to be invested in.

“We feel we’ve brought our business up to a level, but someone else is coming in and benefiting.

“We have a licence for every day of the year bar this one, so it’s a case of bad luck.”

Mr McClounan met with the council’s acting chief executive officer Kelvin Spiller yesterday to raise the club’s concerns.

He said the revenue generated from the match would instead be spent on Ovens and King venues and players.

The club is planning to build a new stand which, when complete, would boost its chances of reclaiming the Ovens and Murray grand final.

Mr McClounan said the alcohol sales were far more lucrative given the game started at 4.40pm and people would either head home or out for tea after the match finished about 7pm.

The football and cricket clubs would also have to make alternate training and playing arrangements when the ground went into lockdown to meet AFL playing requirements.

The council’s events co-ordinator, Tanya McAlpin, said the decision to tender for catering wasn’t made lightly.

She said criteria included local benefit and previous experience in catering similar events.

“It needed to be seen that everyone had a fair opportunity,” she said.

“We are talking about over $100,000 income.”

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