Waratah-Mayfield seek legal advice over pending sale of Newcastle Leagues Club

Second-division outfit Waratah-Mayfield have sought legal advice to determine if they are entitled to proceeds from the pending sale of Newcastle Leagues Club.

The Cheetahs could profit from the $2 million-plus deal, which is due to settle between Newcastle Rugby League and an investor early next month, depending on what documents reveal about the ownership of the National Park Street building.

DISPUTE: Newcastle Leagues Club.

DISPUTE: Newcastle Leagues Club.

Waratah-Mayfield were one of the top-tier clubs that originally purchased the premises together during the late 1950s. They no longer play in the main district competition but still exist, winning the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League C-grade grand final in September.

Newcastle Rugby League officials have previously stated that any funds made will be reinvested in another property to ensure the “future” of the game for this region rather than clearing existing debt or paying individual clubs. 

CHAMPIONS: Waratah-Mayfield on their way to a C-grade grand final win this year.

CHAMPIONS: Waratah-Mayfield on their way to a C-grade grand final win this year.

However, Waratah-Mayfield president Kevin King believed the question of “part-ownership” was worth asking, especially considering the Cheetahs were around in the beginning.

“It’s now in legal hands ... all I can say is that we’ve requested information from the Newcastle Rugby League in regards to some changes apparently made to the constitution to remove Waratah as an owner of the building,” King said.

“We’re just asking for the information to show that it was legally done and we’re happy to move on. But if it hasn’t been, then there might be something.

‘We were one of eight clubs that purchased the premises, so we don’t understand how we could be removed as a part-owner. That’s what we’re trying to seek.”

Newcastle Rugby League chairman John Crooks said the board of directors have the constitutional “authority” to sell the property.

Crooks said Newcastle RL are now awaiting documents from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

“We’re just waiting for copies of documents from ASIC and then we’ll progress from there,” Crooks said. 

“We’re quite happy to listen to what they [Waratah-Mayfield] have got to say but at the end of the day the board has got the authority, according to the constitution, to buy and sell property on behalf of those people as long as it’s reinvested. 

“That’s what we’re trying to do is reinvest that money, to increase our financial viability going forward and into the future.”

Waratah-Mayfield last played first grade in 2004. It was the second of two comeback years after a continuous stint between 1927 and 2001.

Waratah-Mayfield share a similar position to North Newcastle, as both were part of the original Newcastle Leagues Club purchase and still exist today but no longer play the main district competition. The Bluebags, who re-formed in A-grade this season, have not yet taken any action. 

Reigning first-grade champions Macquarie entered the fray in 1960, beyond the formation of Newcastle Leagues Club, while in more recent times historic Maitland underwent a name change after twice dropping out. 

Current top-tier entities South Newcastle, Central Newcastle and Western Suburbs were all foundation clubs in 1910. Kurri Kurri, Cessnock and Lakes followed by 1947. 

The likes of Eastern Suburbs, Raymond Terrace, Northern, Port Stephens and Wyong have come and gone. 

Meanwhile, playmaker Jade Porter has announced a one-year deal with the Kurri for 2018 after five seasons with Wests, including a first-grade premiership in 2014 and this year’s reserve grade title.