League boss blasts Nine

By Heath Gilmore

Local rugby league boss Robin Harley has accused Channel Nine of short-changing Lismore over the upcoming City-Country game.

Harley, the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League president, said he was bitterly disappointed over the treatment of local league fans and officials.

He was frustrated that local league officials, including Doug Harrison, had spent years to secure the game for Lismore but the spectacle had been downgraded.

His outburst followed news that Channel Nine would not be televising The Footy Show from Lismore and that the top area of the Gordon Pavilion had been taken over for Channel Nine's broadcast and a small police command.

"I just think the spectacle has been lost to a degree. We wanted rugby league to be a week-long feature in Lismore," he said.

"When the game has been played on the Central Coast or Bathurst, those areas got a week-long exposure with the full Footy Show and everything else."

Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League discovered only recently that plans to entertain sponsors and other guests on the top floor of the main pavilion had also been scuttled.

Channel Nine told the NRL that the area would be required for its broadcasters.

Harley is unsure whether there will be any room in the grandstand for their VIP guests.

"Look, I don't think it will impare the venture," he said.

"We still have catering rights for the game.

"But I just think it's very disappointing.

"I don't think anyone will take any notice of me.

"Channel Nine run the game."

The Nine network yesterday refused to comment.

More than 5000 tickets have been sold for the City v Country match, John Howard of the Northern Rivers Ticket Office said.

Howard expects a rush for tickets next week after the teams are announced on Sunday night.

A little under 3500 tickets remain. For booking information contact the Northern Rivers Ticket Office, telephone 6621 5600.



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