City steps back from sports club rescue

ALBURY Council is resisting pressure to be part of a rescue package for the financially troubled North Albury Sports Club.

The club states it has approached the council with a sale-and-lease back proposal for the car park, but the council claims to have no knowledge of the offer.

In a separate development, the council and club have not agreed to terms of a new lease for the use of the council-owned Bunton Park after falling due for renewal in December 2012.

Bunton Park is the home ground of the North Albury Football-Netball Club which has also fallen on hard times with debts of more than $100,000 expected to be confirmed at its annual meeting next week.

The debt has prevented the Hoppers from finalising player match payments from last season and will effect commitments made for this season.

The sports club is the parent body of the football-netball club in a unique arrangement in the Ovens and Murray league.

Outgoing football-netball club president Paul Spencer has attributed the sports club’s lack of financial support in recent seasons as a major reason for the football club’s woes.

The proposed car park deal with the council is mentioned in the sports club’s annual report of October last year.

Members voted to make the car park a “non-core” asset which cleared the way for its sell-off.

The club hoped to raise $250,000 from the sale, but no buyer has been forthcoming.

Sports club president Rob Williams couldn’t be contacted for comment yesterday.

City corporate services director Judy Charlton refuted any council involvement in the deal.

“The council has not received a request from the North Albury Sports Club to enter into a purchase-and-leaseback arrangement of the car park at the club,” she said.

“The council and the North Albury Sports Club have commenced discussions regarding a new lease.

“In the meantime the conditions of the previous lease continue to apply.”

The sports club annual report indicate directors had “significant doubts” on its ability to continue as a going concern.

The club has not employed a chief executive since the board made the role redundant in 2011 as part of a cost-cutting program, which has also included reduced operating hours.

Poker machine licences have also been sold in recent years to reduce debt.

The club recorded a small profit in the year ending 2012, but is dealing with a long-standing debt repayment to the Australian Taxation Office.