EXCLUSIVE | Lavington Sports Club shut down: photos

UPDATE, 1:49PM:

LAVINGTON Panthers employees have been delivered the bad news about their jobs by Panthers Group management.

Staff began assembling before noon at the club to be told they no longer have jobs.

They included courtesy bus driver and employee of 14 years, Gary Renshaw.

He was upset he found out the club was shutting from The Border Mail.

"To find out through the media isn't ideal," he said.

Lavington Panthers advisory group chairman Brian Chalmers confirmed all staff entitlements would be covered by the Panthers Group.

"I am devastated," the director, who has been involved with the club since the mid-1970s, said.

Mr Chalmers was also a long-time president of the Lavington Football Club.

Panthers Group ceo Warren Wilson addressed staff before returning to Sydney after the meeting.

Full story in tomorrow's Border Mail.

- DAVID JOHNSTON

UPDATE, 10:49AM:

PANTHERS Group chief executive Warren Wilson will deliver the bad news to 40 staff members today that they have lost their jobs at its Lavington licenced club.

Mr Wilson was locked in talks this morning with club general manager Penny Graham and advisory group members including Brian Chalmers.

A staff meeting has been called for noon today.

Mr Wilson told The Border Mail this morning the parent company could no longer prop up Lavington.

“It will not re-open," he said.

“I would be rather down here saying something else instead of telling people they have lost their jobs."

The 40 jobs to go are a combination of full-time, part-time and casuals.

Mr Wilson said the club and land would be offered for sale after failed to attempts to sell it as a going concern.

The club's glory years were in the 1970s and 1980s before poker machines were introduced into Victoria.

The Panthers Group rescued the ailing Lavington Sports Club in 2001.

- DAVID JOHNSTON

Lavington Panthers Sports Club shut down

THE Panthers Group last night shut down the Lavington Panthers Sports Club.

It is understood senior executives from the Sydney-based Panthers Group informed the Lavington management of the decision about 6.30pm.

The Border Mail believes Panthers Group chief executive officer Warren Wilson arrived in Albury last night and met Lavington club manager Penny Graham.

Mr Wilson and representatives of the Sydney executive are expected to meet the Lavington club’s management this morning then inform staff.

Those discussions will outline the Panthers Group’s plan for the site.

Most staff at the Hamilton Valley club were unaware of the decision last night and staff were expected to be formally told of the decision later this morning.

The former Lavington Sports Club, with debts of more than $5 million, was rescued by Penrith Panthers in 2001.

At its peak, Panthers Entertainment Group boasted 14 licensed club sites across NSW — from Lavington to Port Macquarie.

The group employed more than 1000 staff over its venues last year.

The takeover led to a major rebranding, including the football club changing from Lavington Blues to Lavington Panthers.

The deal wiped out the club’s multimillion-dollar debt.

Last year Panthers sold the Lavington oval for $1.2 million to Albury Council.

The Centaur Road venue is the home of many sporting clubs and a lot of sporting memorabilia is housed in the building.

Former Lavington football premiership coach Tim Sanson salvaged the club’s premiership flags before the doors were locked.

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