A former first grade rugby league coach once said that “League is a simple game played by even simpler people”.
That some Tigers supporters actually believe in Benny Elias (alias Backdoor Benny) and his “mates” attempt to paint themselves as the saviours of the Balmain Club show that some of the supporters are even simpler than some of the former players.
The plan is of course for the development of the old Tiger’s Leagues Club site on Victoria Road, Rozelle into a multi-tower monstrosity that honours the gods of greed and stupidity. Benny and the Board of Tigers want these poor duped sods to turn up at a proposed march to support Benny’s twin-towers on 2 March. Just how many actually turn up will tell us just how simple they actually are.
Speaking of simple. Just how simple was it for the Balmain Tigers Board to make the decision to allow a current Board member, Benny Elias to sign a deal with it?
It has been well documented by Fairfax Media (‘thank you Kelly Burke”) that former Balmain player (I refrain from using words such as “legend”, “star” or “champion” as I may vomit), Benny Elias’s company Fordmont owned a 50% stake in Rozelle Village Pty Ltd – the company seeking to redevelop the troubled Rozelle site. It appears that Elias didn’t disclose in the first instance that he would gain financially from the development. Arhh just a small detail Benny – perhaps too many knocks on the melon in many a melee. He preferred to simply sell the “idea” to fans at club matches by trading on his faded past.
In a recent open letter, local Leichhardt Mayor, Darcy Byrne urged Tigers fans not to take part in a rally in support of the 24-storey proposed redevelopment at Rozelle. Byrne said that he believes there was still no guarantee that the redeveloped site would include a permanent home for the NRL club.
This whole saga has been developing since 2009, when Elias, still a club Board member signed a heads of agreement with Board member David Trodden and others to take over the stalled development of the Club. What a deal! The agreement was to write-off the Club debts of over $23M in exchange for the Club’s property for the princely sum of $1. Of course since that time the Club has paid many hundreds of thousands of dollars back in fees and interest and the Club is still close to $10M in debt.
Fabulous work by the Board it would seem. The Tigers Board has or has had on it your standard rugby league mix of beaks, business and boofhead types plus the odd Olympian. So with such a solid crew what happened? One would have thought any deal would have had a well-structured business plan as the basis of any negotiations. You can be forgiven for thinking that it was obvious that a tendering process should have been undertaken to gain the very best deal for both local residents, the club and the fans. However it appears that when the board thought business, they thought of “funny business” or to be more accurate “Benny business”. Or was it that they were so impressed with Elias’s work as the chairman of Chameleon Mining that they thought this is the deal of the century? As Elias said at that fatal member’s meeting, “The only option if the proposal is voted down is to close the leagues club doors.” Yes particularly when no one else was asked to the party except Benny and his band.
As the stench continues to rise over this whole sorry barn dance, as links to the Obeid Clan and the other usual jokers around the money cesspool come to light the real question here is whether the Board of the Club is capable of impartially deciding what is best for the future of the Club and the local community or more concerned about preserving past glories and practices as well as seeing that their little mate, former Board Member Benny “does good”.
If the Board actually cared about their local Rozelle community and the West Tigers Rugby League tradition then they would stand up and say we made, in good faith a very bad business decision and now we urge all Tiger supporters to “simply” say “no” to these rough-headed flash rats with their gold teeth and chains.