WINGHAM Rugby League Club will look into leasing the Wingham Sporting Complex from MidCoast Council as a 'matter of urgency', according to treasurer Craig Martin.
This follows a meeting this week between council, represented by manager of community spaces, recreation and trades Dan Aldridge, manager of open space and recreation Liam Bulley, Group Three chairman Wayne Bridge, chief executive Mal Drury and Mr Martin.
The Tigers were furious after council closed the complex on Friday, May 6 following an inspection Mr Martin claims was carried out at 9.15am. This meant Wingham's game against Port City on Sunday, May 8, had to be postponed, as council doesn't inspect grounds on the weekend
"We had two fine days and we could have and should have played,'' Mr Martin said.
Wingham carries out the greater majority of maintenance on the field-proper and has done so since the complex was opened in 1977.
The Tigers are seeking to have greater control over whether matches can go ahead, Mr Martin stressing that the club wouldn't play if the ground was too wet.
This is something we should have looked into years ago - and I admit I should have done that- Wingham Rugby League treasurer Craig Martin
"We did that three years ago when Sully (Mick Sullivan) was coaching - we called a game off at 9.30 on Sunday morning after we had a heap of rain overnight,'' Mr Martin pointed out.
Mr Martin admits he has been critical of council in the past. However, he described this week's meeting as 'positive and constructive ' and says he now has greater insight into council's perspective.
He concedes that nothing much will change this year, but said he will now look into what is required for the club to lease the complex in a similar manner to which Manning River Ratz has control of Taree Rugby Park. This would give the Tigers more autonomy to make decisions on the facility's use.
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"This is something we should have looked into years ago - and I admit I should have done that,'' Mr Martin said.
He said figures supplied by council show that it wouldn't cost the club too much more to lease the ground than what the Tigers currently pay to use the facility.
Mr Martin said council also provided a list of alternative fields the club can use if the Big Wet continues and matches have to be moved. This includes grounds in the Great Lakes area. Mr Martin revealed he has even made overtures to the Gloucester Magpies to shift a game there if the wet weather continues.
"They could have the canteen and the bar, we'd take the gate,'' he said.
"But that would also result in our players taking a 75 per cent reduction in match fees for that day."
Mr Martin said Sunday's game against Old Bar usually attracts the biggest gate of the season. He added that the Tigers average $8000 profit on a home game.
"On a good day we can take $15,000 on the gate, canteen and bar,'' he said.
"And we've done a lot of improvements at the ground in the off-season. We want to show the ground off.
"But we also have to remember that rugby league isn't the only sport suffering because of all the rain. Other sports that rely on grass fields are in the same position.''
Mr Martin is confident Sunday's game will proceed.
"Unless it rains on Friday and the ground's close again,'' he said.
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