Merger plans for league in grave doubt

Tweed Coast Raiders’ Paul Abric.
Tweed Coast Raiders’ Paul Abric.

THE proposed merger of Tweed Heads Seagulls and Tweed Coast Raiders for the 2013 Gold Coast Tweed Rugby League Bycroft Cup season is now in doubt following a meeting of Seagulls and GCTRL officials on Wednesday night.

The sticking point is the return of players who were weekly relegated to run around in the Bycroft Cup as injuries and lack of form affected the Gold Coast Titans and Tweed Heads Seagulls Queensland Cup teams.

Seagulls football club chairman Ian Paton and executive officer, Terry Keen, met with GCTRL's new president, Peter Daley and long-time secretary, Debbie Marzella.

Under discussion at the meeting was a proposal from both parties as to Seagulls' return to the GCTRL Bycroft Cup after opting out of the first, reserve grade and under-19 competitions in 2012.

Seagulls wanted to enter A-grade and under-19 sides, but GCTRL baulked at that as it believed to do so would sap under-19 players from other southern Gold Coast clubs such as Cudgen, South Tweed, Bilambil and Tweed Coast Raiders.

Daley said that the GCTRL offered a counter proposal which involved a merger of the Seagulls and Raiders Sunday sides for 2013 with Seagulls returning in 2014 as a stand-alone club when it was envisaged they would be able to field an under-19 team without encroaching on the other clubs.

"Seagulls indicated they were happy enough to combine with Tweed Coast Raiders to field an A-grade side - called something like Tweed Heads Raiders - and have the second grade and under-19s play under the Raiders banner," Daley said. "But the fly in the ointment was the return of relegated players from the Seagulls' Queensland Cup squad to the Bycroft Cup.

"We wanted the same status quo as operated in 2012 - relegated players would come back and play with clubs with which they were affiliated and had dual registration (Seagulls Q Cup and GCTRL) which would spread them across the competition.

"However Seagulls wanted those relegated players to turn out with the Seagulls-Raiders merger team.

"If that occurred, the merger side would be extremely formidable and that would be unfair to the other clubs, many of whom nurtured those dual-registration players for many years." Keen said Seagulls were very disappointed with the outcome of the meeting saying "we went into the talks hoping to resolve the situation".

"The spreading of relegated QCup players around the Bycroft Cup competition for us was a hurdle too high," Keen said.

"Obviously we wanted to retain these players within our coaching style which extends from under-19s through to the QCup and Gold Coast Titans.

"We are now looking at other options as we are determined to put A-grade and under-19 teams onto the field next season," he said, refusing to elaborate further.

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