Merimbula RSL and Club Sapphire should amalgamate: Kothes

A collage of newspaper headlines about licensed clubs around NSW that are in trouble.
A collage of newspaper headlines about licensed clubs around NSW that are in trouble.
  • Report reinforces need for merger

The Merimbula RSL and Merimbula-Imlay Bowling clubs would have to dramatically change their operations to survive in the long-term, says local chartered accounting firm Kothes in its independent review of the two clubs.

It is the second major financial review of the RSL Club  that recommends amalgamation to ensure the community-owned club and its strong veteran traditions remain on the Sapphire Coast. Kothes says that based on industry standards, current figures indicate the RSL will not survive as a going concern in the long-term without dramatic change.

The review also states that Merimbula-Imlay Bowling Club must change its operations to ensure its future viability.

RSL Board president Graeme Williams and Bowling Club chairman Gerry Hammond say the time for debate is over. Amalgamation is the only option for the long-term security of the clubs.

“We urge all members to vote yes for the merger and save our clubs. The MOU strengthens the traditions of both clubs which is something that won’t happen if we don’t take action now. There’s no point dragging this on until one or both clubs are forced to close down the track.

“Registered clubs are part of the fabric of a community and we must act now to ensure a stronger club in Merimbula for future generations.”

The two club boards signed an amalgamation agreement, called a Memorandum of Understanding, last week. Members will vote on whether amalgamation goes ahead at special meetings later in the year.

"Six of the eight registered clubs in the Bega Valley Shire are not financially viable in the long-term."

Kothes Report

The clubs sought the Kothes review as a second opinion on financial predictions for Merimbula RSL Club by Sydney-based firm Lawler Partners. The Lawler report was the impetus behind the RSL seeking an amalgamation partner in June last year.

Kothes partner Simon Byrne says their review backs Lawler’s findings, however, current figures are worse than Lawler’s predictions. Merimbula RSL’s revenue is $250,253 lower than predicted and Merimbula-Imlay Bowling Club, $401,700.

“Both clubs are facing increasing pressures to remain viable and it is our view that the amalgamation of the two clubs is the best option to keep a financially-secure registered club in Merimbula,” Mr Byrne said.

“This position is strongly reinforced when taking into consideration the latest trends of decreased gaming revenue of both clubs.”

Kothes also says that based on industry standards, six of the eight registered clubs in the Bega Valley Shire are not financially viable in the long-term. They are in the ‘disaster looming’ category when compared to accepted industry benchmarks.

Mr Williams said the Kothes findings are in line with the trend of a declining clubs industry in NSW.

He said last Friday’s announcement that the historic Adamstown RSL Club was shutting its doors with debts of $6.5 million after serving its community for 90 years is a common occurrence.

“The reality is that registered clubs are facing tough times and we are not exempt from this in the Bega Valley Shire,” Mr Williams  said. “We have to act now so we don’t end up in a similar position to so many other clubs like the Adamstown RSL who are forced to close their doors.”

Mr Hammond said members make the final decision on merger. An important part of making a decision is being fully informed.

“Our combined membership of 14,000 must familiarise themselves with the contents of the Kothes report and the Memorandum of Understanding. It is up to members to save our clubs and make sure we can continue to provide secure jobs and the important services, traditions and community support for both Merimbula and the broader region.”

The executive summary of the Kothes Report and the amalgamation Memorandum of Understanding can be viewed on both club websites and are also on display in the clubs.

Kothes Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors has offices in Merimbula, Bega, Eden, Bermagui, Jindabyne, Bombala and Cooma. Roy Kothe established the business on May 1, 1947 in Bega.


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