The ACT Government has fined the Canberra Raiders over their decision to play one 2019 NRL season home game in Wagga Wagga.
The funding agreement between the club and Territory Government requires the Raiders play all of their home games at GIO Stadium and includes a financial penalty clause if that term is breached.
A Canberra Raiders spokesperson said their CEO Don Furner was “disappointed” with the fine but insists the club will “move on”.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro slammed the ACT Government’s decision, saying in a statement it was a short-sighted move, particularly given the NSW Government’s recent decision to invest $4 million in the Raiders’ new Braddon high performance facility.
“The ACT isn’t an island. The Raiders are the NRL team for thousands of fans in Southern NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Many of the Raiders’ greatest players are sons of regional NSW. Stars like Junee’s Laurie Daley or Queanbeyan’s Terry Campese and Ricky Stuart are titans of the game.
“If this is how the ACT Government is going to treat the Raiders and their fans, then maybe it’s time to start thinking about bringing the Raiders back to Seiffert Oval (in Queanbeyan) and the investment it would take to make that happen,” he said.
ACT Sports Minister Yvette Berry said the decision to enforce the fine was made due to the sizeable investment the local community makes to the club.
“Although we support the intent of the Raiders in reaching out to the broader region, it is a requirement of our funding agreement that they play each home NRL game at GIO Stadium given the major investment the ACT community makes in both the stadium and the team.
“The ACT Government values its longstanding relationship with the Raiders and the benefits they bring the Canberra community, including the major cross-border investment for the new Canberra District Rugby League Centre of Excellence and Community Hub,” she said.
The Raiders will play an NRL match in Wagga Wagga on 4 May 2019 and another in 2020.
The club’s existing stadium arrangement with the ACT Government is due to expire at the end of 2019.