ClubNSW president upsets Merimbula RSL Sub-branch with merger talk

An invitation to the ClubsNSW president, Peter Newell, to address the Merimbula RSL Sub-branch monthly meeting on the subject of the amalgamation between the Merimbula RSL Club and Club Sapphire has added fuel to the fire already smouldering at the RSL Sub-branch over the proposed merger.

ClubsNSW said that Mr Newell was the guest speaker at the Merimbula RSL Sub-branch monthly meeting on Monday to discuss the club’s proposal to merge with Club Sapphire.

However, secretary of the Sub-branch, Tony Toussaint said: “The RSL Club president advised the Sub-branch executive at the December meeting that the president of Clubs NSW/Australia would be in the area and would it be alright if he addressed members at the January meeting to give a talk on how the club scene in NSW and Australia was progressing. The Sub-branch executive accepted this request in good faith, not knowing that Mr Newell and company had been invited to Merimbula by the RSL Club to discuss and support the proposed amalgamation between the two clubs.”

ClubsNSW said that the RSL invited Mr Newell to the meeting to discuss the benefits a partnership would offer both clubs and provide a forum to address any concerns Sub-branch members have about the club’s future.

Mr Newell said that the discussion with the Sub-branch members was frank and open and he praised the two clubs for being proactive and discussing the proposed amalgamation now while they were both in a strong financial position.

He said: “If the Sub-branch members want both of these clubs to survive, they need to start looking at the long-term and not just focus on the here and now; otherwise when they are forced to act it will be too late.

“As part of the proposed amalgamation process, it is important to continue these discussions about the long-term viability of both clubs and the positive outcomes a merger like this will have on not only the two clubs in question but the entire community.”

Merimbula RSL Club secretary manager Michael Mutsch said having ClubsNSW address the meeting on Monday was an important part of the proposed amalgamation process to provide Sub-branch members with a full understanding of the situation at hand.

“Any members at the meeting with concerns about the proposed amalgamation had the opportunity to listen to Peter and get an understanding of the bigger picture the club industry in NSW is facing,” he said.

“We know there are some concerns about this proposed amalgamation within the Sub-branch and we are committed to addressing those concerns at every opportunity.”

Mr Toussaint said that the Sub-branch meeting held on Monday, January 20, had more than the usual attendance of Sub-branch members.

“After Mr Newell and company left the meeting, members discussed the proposed amalgamation. A vote was taken with the majority of members in attendance voting against any amalgamation.”

Mr Mutsch said now was the best time for the two clubs to merge because they were both in a strong position so it was not a rescue mission for either club.

“The main reason for considering amalgamation is to ensure the services, facilities and benefits provided to members and the local community in the long-term are ultimately better than they would have been under a non-amalgamated model,” he said. 

“If we act now while we both have strong clubs, we can also make sure neither club loses its identity throughout the process – something I know is crucial to the members of both clubs,” Mr Mutsch said.

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