SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 05: An aerial view of construction of Western Sydney Stadium at Parramatta on September 5, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 05: An aerial view of construction of Western Sydney Stadium at Parramatta on September 5, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

NRL chaos after Eels’ stadium snub

PARRAMATTA home games will be marked with a venue 'TBC' when the NRL draw is released next week as the Eels struggle to reach an agreement with the new Western Sydney Stadium.

The Eels are expected to open the new $300 million venue next April but believe the offer that has been put forward by the stadium's operating group VenuesLive is "unacceptable", after six months of negotiations.

"It's still our objective to play there, we just have to make sure it's on the right terms," Eels chief executive Bernie Gurr said.

"We want to be fair and reasonable. Historically we haven't had great deals. Our deal at ANZ is not ideal and we just need to get a fair and reasonable outcome because this is the prime aspect of our business.

"The proposed deal we've been offered is not where we need it to be to get the financial outcomes we need.

"We need to make sure we get those reasonable outcomes so we can invest in our football program, our junior footy program and our community initiatives."

Gurr revealed why his club has refused to accept the terms offered by the Stadium management firm in a letter to members.

Portrait of Parramatta Eels CEO Bernie Gurr at the Eels Football Club offices. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Portrait of Parramatta Eels CEO Bernie Gurr at the Eels Football Club offices. Picture. Phil Hillyard

He said the financial terms were harmful to his club's ability to properly fund its football department and junior development projects.

"As it stands today, the club has been offered commercial terms by the stadium operator that are not acceptable to the board of the Parramatta Eels Club or the Parramatta Leagues Club," Gurr wrote.

"Therefore, when the NRL draw is released in the near future, the venue for the club's home games in 2019 will be marked as "TBC" (to be confirmed).

"Our view that the current proposal is unacceptable has been confirmed after an extensive six-month due diligence process conducted by myself and other members of the management team.

"The due diligence process has included the engagement of a reputable consulting firm. Together we have benchmarked the commercial terms of the current offer against offerings currently being received by NRL and other sports at a range of stadiums across multiple states of Australia.

The new Western Sydney Stadium. Photo credit -skyviewaerial.com.au
The new Western Sydney Stadium. Photo credit -skyviewaerial.com.au

"The current proposal if accepted would adversely affect the ability of our club to invest in our football department including our NRL team and our junior elite football programs.

"The current agreement at ANZ has adversely impacted the club financially and we are not prepared to accept a new agreement that will continue to impact the club negatively for the next 25 years."

He said the terms offered by VenuesLive would also negatively impact fans and hit them in the hip pocket.

Gurr claims the club has concerns about the impact the deal would have on food and drink options inside the stadium as well as limited technology inside the venue to add spectacle to live football games.

He also wants extended corporate hospitality areas.

Gurr confirmed negotiations are ongoing between the Eels and VeniesLive.

The NRL are aware of the issue with their season draw expected to be announced next week, while the Wests Tigers have already agreed to play four games at the state-of-the-art 30,000-seat rectangular stadium next year.

- with AAP



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