THE South Fremantle Football Club has been left with the power to veto a deal between Fremantle council and the Dockers over the lease of Fremantle Oval.
It’s emerged the Bulldogs have a solid 37-year sub-lease over the oval which includes a guaranteed annual income from the head lessor of around $90,000.
The veto power has put the club in a strong bargaining position over the council, which wants it to move onto a 10-year license when the Dockers move out (“Lease deal sealed,” Herald, February 25, 2017).
South Freo’s new CEO, and former player, Tom Bottrell confirmed the club had legal advice no council/Dockers deal could proceed without its approval.
“As far as I know that can’t happen until the three parties all sign a surrender,” Mr Bottrell said.
“We’d prefer a lease because we can run the oval, but of course if we take over the lease we also take on the responsibility for the general maintenance.
“But we are waiting to have a look at the licence before deciding how we’ll respond.
Bulldogs president Haydn Raitt said the guaranteed income was used as an inducement to get the club to give up its 100-year lease of the oval when the council first tried attracting the Dockers. It was offered as compensation for losing the right to hire out the oval.
Mr Raitt said the club would consider taking that role on again, saving the council from having to pay the full $90,000.
“We would want to work with the city, because they have been really good to us,” Mr Raitt said.
He praised the city’s plans to open the oval up to more community use, saying it mirrored the club’s own ambitions. He’s particularly keen to get the Bulldogs’ women’s team back at Freo oval, as the Dockers hadn’t allowed them there over fears the turf couldn’t cope.
But the club’s patron, former mayor Peter Tagliaferri, continued his attack on the Pettitt council, accusing it of bungling the lease deal and overlooking the sub-lease
“They’ve kicked another own goal,” Mr Tagliaferri said, noting the council could face legal action if the Bullies didn’t get what they wanted.
The council’s director of city business, Glen Dougall, wouldn’t respond to Mr Tagliaferri’s claims the sub-lease had been overlooked. Nor would he point the Herald to any budget items outlining the $90,000 payment, preferring a more upbeat take on the situation.
“Council’s priority was to resolve the head lease, but during negotiations with the Dockers the city met regularly with South Fremantle to keep them informed of progress,” Mr Dougall said.
“With the head lease negotiated and settlement scheduled for May, we’re now in discussion with South Fremantle Football Club to grant a licence for the club to continue to be a major tenant at the oval.
“South Fremantle Football Club have a long and proud tradition at Fremantle Oval and we look forward to continuing this tradition,” Mr Dougall told the Herald.
by STEVE GRANT