Raymond Terrace investment property a "potential saviour" for Newcastle Rugby League amid global coronavirus pandemic

Matt Harris
Matt Harris

Matt Harris has described a recently purchased investment property at Raymond Terrace as the "potential saviour for Newcastle Rugby League" amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Harris, the Newcastle RL chief executive officer, said the rent from up to four tenants would help sustain the sporting body this year even if the currently postponed 2020 competition didn't go ahead.

The decision to buy a new asset in September came after selling the Newcastle Leagues Club building, the long-time Newcastle RL headquarters in National Park Street, towards the end of 2017.

"It's potentially a saviour for Newcastle Rugby League," Harris said.

"If we still had the leagues club it would be a different story. Through no fault of their own, they are not operating at the moment and would not be able to pay rent.

"Whereas, worst-case scenario now and there's no competition this year, there's still some form of revenue coming in because of rent from the new property.

"We've done it tough [financially] the last few years, but that decision allows us not to rely on any funding from NSW Rugby League or the Knights or anyone else."

Newcastle RL made the deals almost two years apart, buying and selling for around the $2 million mark.

Rent at Raymond Terrace is approximately $150,000 per annum, almost four times more than the previous rate received from Newcastle Leagues Club.

Harris said two of the new tenants were still operating because they were classed as essential services, including a chemist, but the remaining two tenants will likely require some form of assistance during the COVID-19 crisis.

Any "small profit" Newcastle RL were hoping to make this financial year may not eventuate, but Harris added the real estate move has enabled the organisation to "future proof" beyond this disrupted season. Games are off until at least May 31.

From a staffing perspective, Harris said there "is still work to do" and he is operating "at least three days a week" but also using some annual leave.

Harris said he felt "very fortunate" his role hasn't been impacted yet, putting that down largely to the investment property.

Adam Devich finished up as Newcastle RL football operations co-ordinator after last season and hasn't been replaced.

Indiana Tape was doing some casual hours for Newcastle RL in communications and Harris hoped she would restart later in the year.

Newcastle RL rent office space just outside McDonald Jones Stadium.

Next week clubs were set to meet with Newcastle RL officials to discuss the revised 14-round draw.

However, with government restrictions now even tighter on gatherings outside households, Harris said he was now seeking feedback directly with clubs via phone and email.

A 10-round season, a top-four finals series played over two weeks and an October decider are some of the scenarios being put forward if matches become delayed any further.

Other issues on the agenda include player payments and how clubs are impacted by the the closure of licensed premises.

In addition, NSW Rugby League recently cancelled the state's Canterbury Cup, or NRL reserve grade, competition meaning players from the extended Knights squad could be looking for a game with local clubs.

Harris said he anticipated the Newcastle RL player points system to remain in place.

This story Investment property a "potential saviour" for Newcastle Rugby League amid coronavirus first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.