The NRL are holding the NSW government to ransom over an $800 million promise by taking the Grand Final to Queensland as the Sydney stadium wars potentially head to the courtroom.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the NRL will consider all options after NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet refused to commit funding to rebuild suburban stadiums after a handshake agreement, with flood reconstruction his main priority.
“I find it appalling that they’re using human tragedy of the floods to renege on an agreement,” V’landys, told the Herald.
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Perrottet’s decision sparked an angry confrontation with V’landys in Parliament, with the NRL now resorting to tactics that could lead to a legal battle over the future of Stadium Australia at Sydney Olympic Park.
A 2018 agreement reached by the then premier Gladys Berejiklian, stipulated the NRL grand final would stay in Sydney until 2042 as long as Accor Stadium at Olympic Park was reconfigured into a 70,000-seat rectangular stadium, which would cost taxpayers $800 million.
However, the pandemic caused the government to backflip on the plan and relocate between $250 to $350 million to upgrading suburban grounds in Cronulla, Manly, Leichhardt and Newcastle.
While the plans to develop suburban grounds is not in writing and therefore not rubber-stamped, V’landys is adamant the original Sydney Olympic Park agreement still stands.
The Herald reported that V’landys and the NRL will now hold the government to their original Olympic Park agreement, which is in writing, despite their preference being to develop suburban grounds.
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“When you consider the billions of dollars they spent in the recent budget, the amount they need to honor our agreement is insignificant,” V’landy’s said.
“We will press that they honor the original agreement, which will cost the NSW taxpayer more due to the way they have handled this.”
The NRL are exploring its legal options and have one of the country’s most respected barristers, Alan Sullivan QC on the case.
Perrottet released a statement saying the government were committed to upgrading suburban stadiums over a period of time, given the natural disasters and pandemic that remain a more pressing priority.
“The government has just received the Floods Inquiry Report, which will likely require a significant cost to the taxpayer, and I note right now there are still 1,366 people without a home in NSW due to flooding,” Perrottet said.
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“It should come as no surprise that my top priority is therefore supporting those devastated by the major floods across NSW.”
The development has forced the NRL to consider taking the Grand Final to Queensland in response to the NSW government failing to honor their agreement.
“Everything is now back on the table,” V’landys said.
“It will be a board decision, not mine.”
Sports Minister Stuart Ayres labeled plans to take the Grand Final to Queensland “an extraordinary move”.
“We’ve got to make sure that we make investments that are in the best interests of the people of NSW,” Ayres said.
“It just might mean that we have to wait a little bit longer before we can spend additional money on those venues.”
The government will put on hold plans to develop Leichhardt and Newcastle stadiums, but are committed to a new venue at Penrith, which has angered Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis, who blasted the government for their change of policy on developing suburban stadiums.
“The government’s management of its stadiums policy from the outset has been amateurish and embarrassing,” Hagipantelis told the Herald.
“I assume if the state government is to backflip on its commitment to fund suburban stadiums, then the $300 million committed to the Penrith stadium can now be better utilized for schools and hospitals?
“It would be outrageous for Penrith to retain its stadium for the obvious political benefit of its local member.”