Wolves at the door of football club

Matt Horsley carries the NSL trophy after the Wolves’ grand final victory in 2001. The future of the club is now in doubt .Wollongong FC could fold if the club fails to clear $240,000 in debts, it was revealed yesterday. CEO Jock Morlando and football committee chairman Craig Osborne declared the club’s future was at stake if the club’s owners failed to pay money owed to the Australian Taxation Office, senior coaching staff and Illawarra creditors. The stunning announcement came just over two months after Wollongong FC won the NSW Premier League grand final. Although debt is not unusual in Wollongong FC history, the present economic climate means the club’s future is at risk.”If the debt is not cleared by the owners, the future is clearly grim,” Mr Osborne said.He said the club had three options: clear the debt and continue as Wollongong FC with the same owners, colours and logo; wind up the club and allow the region’s NSW Premier League licence to lapse; or seek new ownership to run a Wollongong-based club with a new name, logo and colours.The Mercury understands Wollongong FC may try to clear its existing debts and become a community operated club under a new governing board and structure. Such a move would be the “most significant milestone and decision made in the history of this club”, Mr Morlando said.Mr Morlando said he had been assured by Wollongong FC’s owners that the $37,000 NSW Premier League entry fee due to Football NSW by December 2 would be paid, thus ensuring an Illawarra-based team would be playing next season.”We are being advised by the club’s benefactors that clearing of the debt is being attended to,” Mr Morlando said. “The debts have accumulated over a three-year period whilst the Wolves have continued to be without a permanent home.”Mr Morlando conceded Wollongong FC would not be playing at Lysaghts Oval in 2009 and that delays in the ground’s construction and the subsequent effects, such as limited gate takings, zero money from canteen sales and stunted corporate sponsorship and signage, had contributed to the club’s plight. NSW Premier’s Department grants worth $2.5 million to relocate Wollongong FC and Wollongong Olympic from Brandon Park to Lysaghts Oval have been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. “We have been told that the ground will be ready for March next year,” Mr Morlando said.He confirmed the club was in “urgent and complex” discussions with stakeholders and governing bodies to ensure the region’s NSW Premier League status. Any new plan would need approval from the owners of Wollongong FC, Football NSW, Football South Coast and Wollongong City Council.
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$10m loss may force Frat Club to shut down

Fairy Meadow’s troubled Fraternity Club has reported a $10 million loss for the last financial year and is struggling to pay back a $2.5 million loan at an interest rate of 82 per cent.The situation is so dire it is uncertain whether the club will survive another year, according to the 2007-08 annual report.”If the club is unable to achieve an operating cash trading surplus before interest costs, the receiver and manager may close the club,” the report said.The $10 million net loss came about in part after an independent assessor found the club sat on flood-prone land, decreasing its value from $13.1 million to $5 million.The situation was made worse by a punishing $2.5 million loan with an 82 per cent interest rate from lender Fast Fix Loans.The loan originally had a 60 per cent rate, but the club couldn’t afford to pay and defaulted on the loan, which sent the interest rate soaring to 82 per cent.The club originally sought the $2.5 million loan to pay off another lender, Ilbene Pty Ltd, a consortium of Italian businessmen who rescued the club from financial ruin in January 2007.Ilbene’s loan came on the condition that the club’s directors had financial management experience.But some directors baulked at the condition and sought the new loan from Fast Fix.The new loan, however, has cost the club $860,000 in interest costs, $105,000 in borrowing costs and $319,000 in legal fees, in the five months to June 30.The club’s position has also been hit by the introduction of smoking bans, an $884,000 drop in poker machine revenue and the general economic downturn.Almost three months ago the club was placed into administration for the second time in two years.Administrator Robert Brennan said yesterday he was trying to turn finances around.”We are endeavouring to keep the club operating and to find a solution to the club’s financial position,” he said. The club has been undermined by factional infighting resulting in 15 board resignations since June 2007.President Mario Tuccia said the board should not be blamed for the poor finances of the club.”It worked out this way because we couldn’t sell the land,” he said. “It is unacceptable … but most clubs are facing the same thing.”Elections will be held for a new board on Tuesday, November 25.The clubs was originally set up by a handful of migrants in 1952 and today has more than 10,000 members.
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New vision for Gorge unveiled

NEW OUTLOOK: Drawings from the consultant’s report show proposed developments at the eastern entry to Cataract Gorge- the first significant change to the Gorge since the 1930s.(1/3)The new entrance area, above the existing car park off Basin Rd, is designed to offer a `wow’ experience to visitors with a view up the Gorge beyond Alexandra Bridge.
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An “inclinator” – a travelling platform for 10 visitors – is included in the plan to assist people with disabilities in getting into the Gorge.

The kiosk will be rejuvenated as the Basin Cafe and include visitor orientation, retailing and food and drink.

“The proposal has been designed to have minimal impact on the Gorge (indeed it makes good an area and facilities that are poorly cared for), whilst providing maximum effect as a dynamic experience for visitors,” the consultant’s report said.

“The shape and form of the proposed elements draw on the Gorge for inspiration.

“Development of the concept in this location means visitors will have the `wow’ experience within moments of leaving their cars and with relative ease.”

The walkway to the main entry point will include interpretive information.

A site map and self-guided walk brochures for different experiences or themes are also proposed.

Cataract Gorge Reserve Advisory Committee chairman Graeme Beams said the redevelopment was designed to have minimal impact on the environment and retain existing features, but enhance the visitor experience.

Ald. Beams said the cost was estimated at $2.3 million and would be the first major refurbishment since the 1930s.

He said the Federal Government had contributed $850,000, which was much appreciated.

Council parks and recreation manager Andrew Smith said this consultation process was the culmination of years of work, but much community input had already been sought.

It is expected the council will ratify the final design in November and the project will be opened in October next year.

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Pizza boy ready to deliver at WIN

Flinders-based Super X rider Aden de Jager on Shellharbour Beach. Picture: GREG TOTMANLining up against cashed-up supercross superstars like Chad Reed and Jay Marmont will be Domino’s delivery driver Aden de Jager.De Jager, who lives at Flinders, is mixing it up with the heavyweights of the Super X Series, despite operating on a budget dwarfed by the big factory teams.De Jager relies on his income from delivery driving to cover the costs of competing in the Super X series, while a team like Reed’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki or Marmont’s CDR Rockstar spends around $1 million a season.The 20-year-old de Jager finished eighth in round four at Parramatta last Saturday and this weekend’s event at WIN Stadium is a priceless chance to show his wares for next season. “I’m a delivery driver at Domino’s Pizza, which means I get to ride and train during the day and work at night. I would do anything to keep my sport alive,” de Jager said.Indeed. While the likes of Reed, Marmont and defending Australian champion Daniel Reardon have an army of handlers to maintain their bikes, de Jager has relied on his dad Mark and local businessmen to help maintain his machine.”Dad has been doing it for me … He has been working on bikes since I started riding, so he knows what he’s doing.”I don’t have the world’s biggest crew – Craig Wickham from C&D Wickham Mechanical Repairs has worked so many hours on my bike.”Being a privateer, I tend to be a bit hard on the bike and don’t spend enough time working on it.”Privateers might get a free bike, but they have to work during the week.”When you have factory backing, you can fly everywhere for nothing and have staff working on your bike.”De Jager’s Fiat Yamaha Young Guns team will be wound up after the Super X series, meaning he will launch an ambitious plan to form his own team next year.”Aden de Jager Racing sounds cool, but I would like to get a naming rights sponsor,” De Jager said.”I want to show people I can stick it to the pros. There’s no reason I can’t compete with those guys.”When I do beat them, it shows that I want it a lot more.”De Jager compressed his T5 vertebrae in a fall at Geelong in round three, but bounced back at Parramatta Stadium to finish eighth in a helter-skelter elimination format.
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Hirsute Hawks help out

Wollongong Hawks coach Eric Cooks (left) , assistant coach Kevin Brooks, Anthony Petrie, Glen Saville and Lindsay Tait show their hair style for Beardvember – a pledge to avoid shaving and raise awareness of prostate cancer and depression. Picture: DAVE TEASEThe Wollongong Hawks are doing their best wolf man impressions this month.Yesterday the Hawks unveiled their “Beardvember” campaign – a month-long pledge to avoid shaving in a bid to throw the spotlight on prostate cancer and depression.”Men need to talk about things like prostate cancer and depression, we need to know it’s okay to talk about any serious health issues,” assistant coach Kevin Brooks said.”When you look at breast cancer and what women have done to raise awareness on breast cancer, they’ve done an outstanding job, and without taking any focus away from that, we need to add a bit more awareness about prostate cancer and depression.”Prostate cancer is a little bit more prevalent in African-American men, which is why it’s so close to home for me.”Our percentages of prostate cancer are a little higher than white men or Asian men or anyone else. We need to get behind it because we need to get that awareness up and get it out there more.”Brooks believes the majority of men still keep health problems to themselves rather than seek medical advice.”Men don’t like to go to doctors in the first place, and most of them certainly don’t want to have someone poking around those areas,” he said.”That makes it even tougher for us to talk about things like that and actually go and get the help we need. We don’t have the same social support women have. Men apparently suffer more from divorce, simply because women have more avenues to talk about things and they’re more in touch with their emotions than men. We’re more reserved, we don’t like talking about stuff which isn’t manly.” As for the Hawks’ beard-growing contest, Glen Saville is a whisker or two ahead of Lindsay Tait and Anthony ‘Peach’ Petrie.”Sav’s got a good one going, Peach’s is coming along, mine’s growing out a bit, and Dusty (Rychart) only has a little peach fuzz going on,” Brooks said.The Hawks are also right behind the fight against breast cancer, with the club hosting a pink-themed night for tomorrow’s home clash with the Gold Coast Blaze.National Breast Cancer Foundation representatives will be selling pink merchandise and holding a raffle.
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