Club Sapphire and Merimbula RSL Club merger vote may be this year

A vote on the amalgamation of Club Sapphire and the Merimbula RSL Club could take place before the end of the year according to CEO of Club Sapphire, Damien Foley.

He told a group of around 120 members who attended a members’ information night at Club Sapphire on Monday, June 16 that the boards of both the Merimbula RSL Club and Club Sapphire had agreed in principal with the contents of a memorandum of understanding.

In introducing Mr Foley’s presentation, chairman of Club Sapphire, Gerry Hammond stressed that he and every member of the Club Sapphire board wholehearted supported the proposed amalgamation.

Mr Foley said: “The current status is that the matter is in the hands of the RSL. The RSL board will undertake whatever further considerations, reviews and consultations it needs before it comes back to the board of Club Sapphire and confirms it is ready to sign the agreement.”

Mr Foley said that if the memorandum of understanding was signed, Club Sapphire members would not vote until the matter had been approved by RSL Club members.

In his presentation he referred to the decline of gaming revenues saying that they had peaked in Merimbula some 10 years ago and had declined ever since.

“In the last 10 years 350 NSW clubs have closed and KPMG state that 64 per cent of the remaining clubs in NSW are classified as being under financial stress,” Mr Foley said. He added that KPMG also stressed the importance of timing in amalgamation and that sooner was better.

In recommending amalgamation, Mr Foley said that the board’s main goals had been to ensure long-term viability of the club, protect bowling activities, facilities and traditions and protect the jobs of staff in the long term.

He said that the RSL had similar objectives but its priority was to protect the RSL traditions rather than bowling traditions.

If amalgamation goes ahead the two clubs will trade from their existing buildings for at least five years after amalgamation is implemented. Club Sapphire will be the sole location sometime after this initial period and there are plans to extend and renovate it.

These include improved parking, access and streetscape, a greater variety of food outlets, a large multipurpose space for conferences, trade shows and functions, displays of bowling and RSL memorabilia and interactive tourism displays.

In closing Mr Foley said that he believed there was a bright future for clubs in the town but not under the current model.

“The RSL’s call for an amalgamation partner creates an opportunity for the future,” he said. 

The RSL Club

There will be two votes, the first to approve amalgamation requiring 50 per cent to be in favour and then a second vote, requiring 75 per cent approval, to agree changes to the constitution of the club. All members can vote but it must be in person, not by proxy.

Club Sapphire

Club Sapphire members would not vote until RSL Club members had approved the amalgamation.

Again there would be two votes, the first by all members, social and bowling requiring 50 per cent approval for the amalgamation. The second vote to change the constitution would be by bowling members only.

Votes can only be cast in person at a specially convened meeting as required by the Registered Clubs Act.