Merimbula RSL Board strengthened its commitment to a merger with Merimbula-Imlay Bowling Club at its monthly meeting on Monday night.
RSL Board president Graeme Williams said the board had a responsibility to ensure the long-term future of the community-based club for all members.
He said himself and fellow board members John Crawford, John Finn, Allan Browning, Alan Johnson and Phil Cheek firmly believed now was the right time to start planning because the business model of the traditional-style club was not assured.
“We need to look at ways to diversify our businesses – although we might be trading at reasonable levels now, we need to look beyond to 3, 5 and 10 years from now,” Mr Williams said.
“The RSL Board believes amalgamation is the best way to achieve this, especially given the ever-increasing pressures all clubs are facing in a rapidly-changing clubs industry.”
Since June 1 last year, 21 clubs in NSW have called for expressions of interest for amalgamation. This includes eight RSL and Ex-Services clubs and three Bowling Clubs. Numerous others have closed during that same period including some of the clubs that have called for these expressions of interest.
Mr Williams said the merger was not just about the long-term survival of the two clubs.
“The RSL and the Bowling Club boards both have a strong vision to create a prosperous community-based facility which will maintain the RSL and Bowling traditions plus be a commercial focal point within Merimbula for the benefit of the regional community and the many visitors that come here,” he said.
Mr Williams said there were many steps to take before members had an opportunity to cast their vote for amalgamation. He said part of the process was addressing members’ concerns.
“The Sub Branch Executive has publicly raised concerns during merger discussions and other members placed concerns in ‘Join the Conversation’ boxes in the two clubs.
“The two boards have addressed these concerns in an Amalgamation Memorandum of Understanding, which both boards have agreed upon, subject to legal review.
“We have also invited the Sub Branch Executive in good faith to meet with us so we can outline in detail how we have taken their concerns into account and we are now waiting for confirmation from them.”
Mr Williams said the board was also distributing a detailed questions and answers brochure to all members, of which there are about 14,000 between the two clubs. These brochures are also available inside the two clubs and on their websites.
He said the merger proposal was based on the principles of sound financial management and a strong desire to ensure neither club lost its identity, something which was crucial to members of both clubs.
“As amalgamation is a legal process framed by legislation, the most important step is signing a Memorandum of Understanding. The next step is for members of both clubs to vote in favour of a merger,” Mr Williams said.
“If they do vote in favour, the two clubs can work towards our long-term vision of a stronger business model with a range of revenue streams that can provide job security for staff and maintain the strong RSL traditions and bowling activities for many years to come.”
The merger promises a bright future says the RSL Club Board