WORKERS? CLUB TO THE RESCUE
By NERIDA BLOK
THE Lismore Workers' Club has ensured the survival of the Goonellabah RSL Sports Club with a buy-out offer.
Yesterday, Workers' Club general manager Stephen Bortolin said a deed of amalgamation had been signed last Friday with Simspartners, receivers of the parent Lismore RSL Club.
The fate of the profitable Goonellabah club had been in the balance after it inherited more than $3million in debts when the downtown parent club folded.
The Lismore RSL Club went into receivership in April last year.
In April this year, the city club was sold to Lismore Revival Fellowship; now the Goonellabah operation has its own saviour.
David Leigh, a partner with Simspartners, declined to reveal the agreed amount.
However, he said it would not clear the debts.
"It will be sufficient to allow them to be dealt with, but not pay them out entirely," Mr Leigh said.
Mr Bortolin said the Lismore Workers' Club had held discussions with the former management of the Lismore RSL Club before the receiver was appointed.
"The RSL Club was looking for possible amalgamations prior to receivers coming in," he said. "It's been ongoing for some time."
Staff at the Goonellabah RSL were informed of the agreement yesterday.
Mr Bortolin said there would be changes for the club, but they aimed to 'preserve it as much as we can'.
"The Licensing Court wants us to take it on as an ongoing concern," he said.
"There will be consolidation because we'll have two clubs doing the same thing ? administration being one."
Mr Bortolin said one or two staff may lose their jobs, but the exact number was unknown as the situation hinged on the amalgamation.
Lismore Workers' Club president Max Thompson said the agreement to proceed with the amalgamation 'was only the beginning of a long process'. He said members of each club had to be in support.
If so, it then has to be approved by the Licensing Court of NSW.
"The process can come to an end at any time if any one of these steps in the amalgamation process is not approved," Mr Thompson said.
Mr Bortolin said the Lismore Workers' Club was keen to take on the Goonellabah RSL Sports Club to keep it in the community.
"There was a good chance an outsider was going to come in, such as Twin Towns or one or two Sydney Clubs, and what happens then is money goes out of town," he said.