Perth is in danger of losing its Super 14 franchise, the Western Force, to another State after the Government’s rejected plans to upgrade Subiaco Oval.
Rugby 365 reports that according to the West Australian newspaper, the Force is at risk of folding after a report by LEK Consulting revealed that the franchise is on track to lose AU$ 2.8 million this year. This is mainly due to the failed sponsorship deal with Firepower Fuel as well as the decrease in crowd attendance and membership support.
Membership with the Force has nearly halved since 2006 while the average home crowd attendance over the same period has dropped by nearly 10,000.
The franchise will move its base to the Members Equity Stadium next year as total losses would mount to AU$17 million over the following four years, if the Force stayed at Subiaco. Subiaco is just not suitable enough to watch rugby and a rectangular facility has to be built if they wish to continue playing in Perth.
The move to Members Equity Stadium will also help ease the financial burden but the West Australian government would still need to upgrade the capacity from 18,000 to 25,000 to increase the franchise’s bottom line. And the redevelopment could also provide a massive boost to soccer and rugby league in WA.
“The upgrade is essential for the long-term viability of the Western Force, it’s as simple as that,” outgoing Force chief executive Greg Harris said.
Harris said it would cost the WA Government comparatively little to save the Western Force in the short term and provide three of WA’s football codes with the basis of a suitable long-term venue.
“We’re not asking for AU$1 billion, we’re asking for AU $70 million to ensure that you have a pathway for young footballers of three different codes in this State to be able to play at the highest level they possibly can.
“I don’t think that’s an unrealistic expectation, especially in relation to the AU$ 300 million which the Victorian State Government are currently spending on a rectangular stadium or the AU$ 165 million which the Queensland State Government have recently spent at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast.”
Australian Rugby Union chief John O’Neill has urged the WA Government to honour the deal.
“If you look around Australia, the successful franchises in rugby union, rugby league and soccer have dedicated, purpose-built stadiums,” he told the West Australian.
“I’d be greatly comforted if the WA Government would deliver that outcome for the Force. The ARU’s commitment to Perth is unambiguous.
“It was the correct decision to give Perth a team, and they have shown the potential of rugby in WA. Any suggestion we would willingly move the team from Perth to Melbourne is ludicrous. However, we’ve got to get the Force back in the black as soon as possible. The ARU is not a lender of last resort.”Tweet