June 16, 2024

A Sydney council has voted for a million-dollar partnership with wealthy NRL club Parramatta Eels in a row that has split the council’s Labor majority.

In December, the City of Parramatta approved a three-year agreement for up to $2.4 million for the first year.

The value for the first year was $385,500.

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In the inaugural year, the NRL women’s team’s jersey would have the council’s insignia on the back.

In the second and third years, it was suggested that the men’s jersey should bear the emblem.

However, the council decided not to put its emblem on the men’s shirt when they agreed on a $1.1 million deal on Monday night.

The deal included a women’s sports scholarship in Western Sydney and funding for player clinics, holiday camps and game-day events in Parramatta’s CBD.

It drew criticism from councillors who believed council money should not be spent on the professional rugby league club.

Mayor Pierre Esber of the City of Parramatta, Labor Deputy Mayor Patricia Prociv, and Labor councillor Cameron MacLean voted against the agreement both on Monday and in December.

Both times, independent councilor Kellie Darley and Greens council member Phil Bradley voted against the idea.

In the meanwhile, four council members from Our Local Community, two independents, and three Labor council members supported the agreement.

According to Mr. Esber, investing council funds in the partnership failed the public muster test.

“Nobody loves rugby league more than I, but we can spend the money on toilet blocks, upgrading parks, upgrading playing fields,” added Mr Esber.

“In the end, your job is to provide roads, garbage collection, and rates.

The Eels are a rugby league team that has great success. They are extremely wealthy. They’re not in need of our cash.”

During the meeting on Monday night, independent councillor Kellie Darley made a retraction motion on the deal.

But when the other council members decided to address the motion in a private meeting, Ms. Darley dropped the motion.

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