TOO MANY WASHOUTS: West Maitland Red Dogs players Brendan Threadgate (front), Luke Davies, Kai Wybrow, Daniel McDonald and Mick Smith say the club needs to play home games to generate an income. The West Maitland Red Dogs Senior Rugby League Club is facing financial annihilation because of the recent wet weather that has seen several of its home games at Coronation Oval abandoned with ground closures.
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With so many games cancelled in recent weeks, the club is now thousands of dollars in debt and unable to pay bills that could see it kicked out of the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League D-grade competition, regardless of whether or not the team makes the finals.

Lauren Threadgate from West Maitland said the club was in dire straits.

“Basically, we’ve had so many games called off that we haven’t been able to have a normal run of games,” Ms Threadgate said.

“If we don’t have any home games then we can’t generate any money.

“Having no income from home games, like canteen revenue and losing the bulk of our fund-raising, which is done on game days with things like raffles, makes it tough.

“Player registrations and other costs associated with the game, like buying playing gear and footballs and paying fees, makes it difficult.”

Threadgate said there were provisions to replay the abandoned games, but the downside was fixture congestion.

“We are a senior rugby league football club, most of our players are in their 30s and one bloke in his 40s,” Threadgate said.

“We have a double-header with Saturday and Sunday games coming up; for them to be expected to play two games in a weekend is very tough.

“Our team has five games to make up in three weeks and we’ve been told if we can’t repay our debts to the Country Rugby League they will pull the club out.

“Part of our fees cover insurance and if the players aren’t insured obviously they can’t play.”

Threadgate described the club’s finances as grim, with the club in debt several thousands of dollars.

But the Red Dogs’ tough times have brought out the best in the community, with two teenage buskers recently donating more than $60 to the club after playing for the crowd at West Maitland’s last home game.

“Sixty dollars is a lot of money to two teenagers and every little bit helps at the moment,” Threadgate said.

“We’re crossing our fingers and hoping for no more washouts so we can run our games and make some money.

“We definitely want people to come out and watch our team and support the club if they can.”

Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League administrator Phil Brown said it was a requirement that all clubs were financial unless they had an agreed payment plan in place.

“It’s a catch-22 situation for them,” Brown said.

“Obviously if they can’t play games they can’t generate funds.”

West Maitland will host Thornton Beresfield at Coronation Oval on Saturday before welcoming Belmont Souths on Sunday.

Kick-off on Saturday is at 4pm and 3pm on Sunday.

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