Off the Wall

There is a very real possibility in the game that a majority of clubs are in serious financial difficulty, or worse, the diehard fans are going to be left behind.

The latest club to fall victim to a mixture of financial stress and councils hijacked by anti-sport greenies and protect groups is the Manly Sea Eagles.

Last weekend the Sea Eagles took a match to Blue Tongue (alias John D Singleton) Stadium at Gosford - and came away with a bonanza...a ground breaking crowd and a profit in the region of $300,000.

For a club under financial stress that must have seemed like Christmas in July!

The Warringah Council, urged on by green groups is effectively driving The Sea Eagles away from Brookvale Oval. It wants it to be a "multi-function community facility".

If that attitude continues then it is sadly only a matter of time before the club moves elsewhere - probably to Blue Tongue Stadium - and the loyal and long time fans will be left high and dry.

Today there are reports that the Sea Eagles are planning a home game at Lang Park in Brisbane. It will just about be a sell out no matter who they plan...clubs like the Sea Eagles and the Dragons have substantial followings in Brisbane, something that dates back to the pre-Broncos era.

What next?

The Dragons fans had to put up with being shifted here there and everywhere while the local council frustrated the upgrading of Kogarah Jubilee Oval and other clubs have had the same problems.

What the game needs is leadership; leadership that can demand that state governments stop local council denying local fans the right to watch their team close to their homes and communities.

If the game ever gets to that stage then just about all games will played at the SFS, Olympic Stadium etc, with a handful of sub-standard home grounds in Sydney.

The local ground - with modern facilities - is a massive drawcard. Jubilee Oval and Leichhardt Oval are surely evidence of that.

Rugby league is a major contributor to the community. A big day at Brookvale benefits local business.

We are in a race not just for television audiences, but for paying spectators and club members.

We might be in better shape on the former - in sense that sadly we are losing ground on the latter!