ANOTHER social club in Fremantle has hit hard times, with the Navy Club facing a tax bill that might force it into selling its High Street premises.
Although president Craig Gorham told members in a letter last Saturday the only viable option was to sell, by Wednesday afternoon things were looking brighter.
Mr Gorham told the Herald a club member who worked for an accounting firm had put them in contact with one of the financial whizzes who helped rescue builder Cooper & Oxley after it went into administration.
He’d told the club it was possible to strike a deal with the tax office and trade itself out of trouble.
The lifeline will be put to members, along with the sale options, at a special general meeting of the club which was due to be held today (Saturday, May 11) at 11am.
“It is evident over the last decade the patronage of the Navy Club has been on the decline,” Mr Gorham wrote to members.
“Over this time, increases in the price of drink have been kept to a minimum, the membership fee hasn’t increased [it’s $50 a year], and yet the costs of the club continue to rise.
“While the turnover of the club has increased in recent years, the costs continue to rise at a faster rate.”
Club manager Sharon Pratt told the Herald staff costs were the biggest impost, but the club was proud of paying them a decent wage and had been repaid with their loyalty.
Ms Pratt said a measure of that loyalty was an offer from the staff to work some shifts for free if it helped the club trade out of its problems.
Mr Gorham said there would be an onus on existing members to pitch in if they voted for the rescue plan, particularly a ramping up of the club’s fundraising efforts.
“We have done a lot of fundraising for the community in the past, but we haven’t done so much for ourselves,” he said.
“We are talking about a wine club, selling chocolates or offering members an adventure, something like buying a brick of the club.”
One of the options on the table if the members decide to sell the building is to negotiate with the Italian Club to secure a space when it redevelops its Marine Terrace site. In some ways that would be completing a circle, as the Navy Club started on Marine Terrace before purchasing the top two floors of current home on the corner of High and Pakenham Streets.
by STEVE GRANT