MAD Classics #26 – You’re a crook or a businessman?

Supplied (click to enlarge)

The benefits of being involved with the new stadium were behind [ORFU’s] desire to establish a formal relationship with the Highlanders and DVML. ODT 12.10.11

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, DCC, DCHL, DVL, DVML, Economics, People, Politics, Project management, Site, Sport, Stadiums

33 responses to “MAD Classics #26 – You’re a crook or a businessman?

  1. Hype O'Thermia

    So ORFU desires to establish a formal relationship with the Highlanders and DVML. Does this remind you of serial marrying for money a la Malcolm Webster the convicted wife-killer?

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Fri, 14 Oct 2011
      Editorial: Making professional sport pay
      If there is truth in the old Yorkshire saying “Where there’s muck there’s brass”, the inverse often equally applies: where there’s brass there’s muck. As a number of serious and potentially ruinous disputes attest, this is increasingly the case in the arena of modern professional sport. The business of sport has become like most other businesses: it is immune from neither the quandaries of attracting revenue, nor income distribution, nor the management versus “labour” divide along which opposing forces intermittently meet to arm wrestle over profits, wages, conditions and sponsorship.

      “Filthy lucre” has taken centre stage and while this is the way of the world, and the price sports fans pay to sit in their lounges and view an endless procession of top sporting events, there is at times a distinctly mucky feel about it.

      Read more

      • Elizabeth

        {Comment relocated to this thread.}

        Hype O’Thermia Submitted on 2011/10/14 at 10:47 am
        In today’s ODT, letters to the editor, there is one that needs to be put here, esp the reply.
        It is headed “ORFU finances: not ratepayers’ problem”, written by Russell Garbutt and as usual makes good sense. Then comes the real (shiny plastic) diamond – the response from Wayne Graham, ORFU chairman.
        Please, please put it on What If? so it doesn’t disappear next time the wheelie bins are collected.

        {We are unable to print in full a letter and reply appearing in the Otago Daily Times. We will consider our options. Readers have access to ODT Archives and public library newspaper archives. -Eds}

  2. Calvin Oaten

    Hi Russell,
    I have just finished ‘gagging’ over Wayne Graham’s reply to your letter. Surprised it got published incidentally.
    I can’t believe that he believes what he says. Product of a spinmeister no doubt. But how is it that rugby existed as an ‘opiate of the masses’ for probably some 100 years quite happily without having to rely on the public purse for its survival? Indeed, how is it that this intense support has only really been required since the advent of the “professional model” being implemented? Surely, that must be obvious to any who want to see. Those that have destroyed the basis of the game are blinded to their stupidity and are desperate to get saved by the public. With the lack lustre council we have and the insiders pushing agendas it is hard to see this being stopped. God help this town.
    Power to you.

  3. Russell Garbutt

    I must say that when I submitted my letter to the ODT, I was surprised to be told that it had been referred for comment. I even asked the ODT why they had done so. But I have to say that I’m really pleased that they did as Wayne Graham exposed more of himself than I think, on reflection, he would have liked to have.

    Playing the man is usually the resort of someone who hasn’t the substance of an argument. People that know me and know of my contributions to this town one way or another will be able to dismiss his rather pathetic jibes. If he doesn’t know of my contributions, then maybe he should get on the phone and ask me what they are. I’m very confident that he won’t however. I would be happy to tell Mr Graham of my suggestion that if he wants to know of something that would make the stadium pay then getting the professional rugby community to start to pay for it would be a good start. Bet he won’t want to know that either.

    What Wayne Graham managed to do was to openly avoid and deflect what I was saying in my original letter. The ORFU have been living beyond their means for years and years and only they can control their own destiny. BUT, we don’t owe them a living. What is so hard about understanding that? While Wayne Graham may or may not have been a “good” rugby player, it doesn’t make him immune from some learning a basic concept of business. Spend more than you earn and you are down the tubes.

    The second and most important issue was the one of the ORFU “sharing the costs” with DVML. I would like Mr Graham and every member of the DCC to listen very carefully to all those ratepayers who have been telling you for years – “NO MORE MONEY FOR PROFESSIONAL RUGBY”. Your costs are your business and not ours, so just go away and stay away.

  4. Calvin Oaten

    Isn’t that what DVML should be telling him? Probably ‘genetics’ getting in the way.

  5. Russell Garbutt

    So hard to tell your mutual suicide pact partner to go away as it tends to have a negative effect on yourself……

  6. Elizabeth

    I especially deplore Mr Graham’s default to claptrap (ODT Letters, 14.10.11) by alluding to ORFU’s pride in what it does for “the youngest children”… On this roll, he then presumes to speak for the whole province! Brings tears to the eyes. The perfect parochial fine upstanding he-leader.

    But. It’s shite.
    Mr Graham was approached as the ORFU chairman, for reply. He can leave his messiah complex at home in his undie drawer.


    Alternatively, Mr Graham, you can keep pecking in the dirt.

  7. Calvin Oaten

    Hold on, Elizabeth. There are egos at stake here. Jobs as well. Where else could Mr Davies get $250,000 per year to preside over the demise of a stadium when the paint is still not dry? Think about it, a stooge like Mr Graham of the ORFU is exactly the sort of ‘fall guy’ he needs to keep the attention of the ‘lumpen councillors’ from the deficit he is riding right now, post RWC. I just hope our shiny new Mr Orders can be up to speed on this.

  8. Russell Garbutt

    And of course the hordes of amateur kids that do play rugby and all of their coaches and support staff actually have nothing to do with the professional side of Otago Rugby – something else that the real estate agent chooses to forget or ignore. As is the case when any code goes professional and incorporates the pros into the same amateur entity – it just don’t work.

    Ask if the amateur component of the ORFU is happy with the situation of having to meet the costs of running pro rugby. No, they’re not.

    And there is the other matter of having a rugby academy that has been posing as something else operating out of premises not too far from the stadium – where did they get their money and under what circumstances? No, Mr Graham, time as we’ve all said to just go away and sort your own problems out. We don’t need them.

  9. Anonymous

    You do have to wonder which councillors and or stakeholders are inspiring his sense of entitlement.

    • Elizabeth

      It’s only ever been the same suits outside DCC, for starters.
      The particular list hasn’t changed for years.

      • Elizabeth

        Loving this bit (ODT Letters, 14.10.11):
        Wayne Graham, ORFU chairman replies: “Our board consists of volunteers who give enormous amounts of time to assist with administering the game.”

        Game? What game?
        Administering the rort, lobbying mealworm councillors (big men what follow rugby, some of whom are, or were, short), grooming charitable entities to give hundreds of thousands of dollars, year in, year out, to a (professional, woops) rugby administration.

        Wayne-boy, that’s exhausting! No wonder your poor hard working ‘volunteers’ on the board need power supplements. [Delta jacks up through the trapdoor.]

        • Elizabeth

          Negotiating the exit from Carisbrook was also significant. The ground was “simply sending us broke. When I started, we had an interest bill of $500,000 a year. That’s $10,000 a week, and we’re a rugby union.”

          ### ODT Online Thu, 3 Nov 2011
          Rugby: Few regrets as Reid decides to move on
          By Hayden Meikle
          Richard Reid would like to have seen better results on the field but he says he leaves Otago rugby with few other regrets. Reid will end his four-year tenure as Otago Rugby Football Union general manager (previously chief executive) at the end of this month. The announcement yesterday of his departure did not come as a shock, with speculation his role will not exist if the union adopts a major restructuring linked to its move to the new stadium.
          Read more

  10. Peter

    Wayne Graham is also Managing Director of LJ Hooker, Dunedin, for those who don’t know.

  11. Anonymous

    How many times can this council and its public fund loving stakeholders take us over the same apple barrel?

  12. Phil

    Unbelieveable. Is the situation that dire that DCC has to buy the stadium’s only tenant in order to justify a use for the stadium ? What’s next, paying people to sit in the stands ?

    Trivia question for the morning: How many local authorities around the world own a professional football team ? And, if not, why not ?

    Still, I guess this must be classed as a Core Business Activity. Right ?

  13. Anonymous

    It is infuriating. The ratepayers paid for their debt. Now they will be paying for it in the future. This is a professional sports body – not a core, essential or even necessary part of Dunedin. There was never a mandate for the Dunedin City Council to save this rugby venture. Just because it hides behind a council company and leaves DVML to take the media hit does not make it morally right. The council is out of line and David Davies should recognise the situation.

    There are many worthy small and medium businesses in Dunedin who are struggling or have closed more valuable to this city. I doubt the council will be paying off their debt or buying them out (except that one time), so why does rugby keep getting a free meal ticket on the ratepayer tab?

    Stakeholders need to be thrown out of council. Stadium councillors think they are the cats playing with the mice but they’re just common toys found on any supermarket shelf, stored in a cupboard and taken out when the fat cats are bored and want to play a little with their pets.

    The rest of us are sitting back and treating the whole damn show as some sort of wild life documentary about a higher food chain doing what comes natural.

  14. Peter

    The news in today’s ODT that DVML is taking over the ORFU to save it from itself is disgraceful. Many will be left very despondent that despite some positive changes brought by the new DCC CEO, Paul Orders, nothing will really change in how this town is run. Vested interests like the ORFU continue to have a lifeline by siphoning off ratepayers’ money while those businesses which work to make an honest living here struggle to stay afloat.
    I’m beginning to wonder if Dunedin is truly fucked.

  15. Mike

    Um we are already paying people to sit in the stands. Ratepayer subsidies on a per bum on seat basis are still far higher than what a rugby fan pays

  16. Russell Garbutt

    If this is not the reason why the Minister of Local Government, the Auditor General and the Ombudsman to get involved, then what is?

    Clearly DVML will now say that they will not charge themselves for running professional rugby and so the total liability on the ratepayer has just gone up heaps.

    One has to ask – what exactly does the ORFU and the Highlanders hold over the Councillors to cause this fatal bleeding of ratepayer funds to prop up their bankrupt business? An impartial observer and analyst is now needed more than ever and it strikes me as criminal that no support seems to be forthcoming for an independent forensic analysis of the DCC and all associated enitities.

  17. Phil

    I guess this was always the intention. Taking Carisbrook and effectively retiring the ORFU debts, the wheels were in motion back before 2008. It reads as though the Highlanders are also good as bought but I suspect they are a LITTLE too frightened to say that at the moment. Squeeze it out in small doses hoping that no-one will notice. Neither organisation is capable of generating any profit. The losses will have to be covered by DVML, who also have no money. Where will they be turning to every budget time with their hand out?

    The bottom line is that if rugby fails then the stadium fails. Council’s own advisors told them that from the start. Therefore, rugby has to succeed. By fair means or foul. Too many reputations at stake. Or what’s left of them.

    Good to know that there’s enough money to buy 15 pretty boys but not enough to reopen a public road. That sounds about right.

  18. Hype O'Thermia

    Struggling, close to bankrupt companies throughout Dunedin will be heartened by this move. In time Dunedin could acquire the largest collection of [lame] dogs this side of the Battersea Dogs’ Home.

  19. Russell Garbutt

    What Chin, Brown, the late Walls, Guest, Acklin, Collins, Noone did in the last Council was to form a mutual suicide pact with professional rugby.

    By wedding the Dunedin ratepayer with a dowry of over $400m professional rugby doesn’t need to do anything. It can fail, but it can cost heaps more in that process.

    We are already more than aware that there are no more concerts “locked in” to the stadium, which has also proven that it cannot deliver a really quality product in terms of acoustics and logistics. Time indeed for some more people to front up NOW to start proceedings to ensure that the whole truth is exposed on this project, that those responsible are clearly identified, that those who were always destined to financially benefit by their involvement in the decision making process are also exposed, and that realistic decisions can be taken on what to do with the edifice.

    But first of all, did the current Council know that this latest crock of effluent arrangement was to take place, or is this something decided upon by David Davies alone?

    • Elizabeth

      We were all looking for something like the V8s fiasco at Hamilton City Council to tip the balance for government investigation. This is it, DCC.

  20. Russell Garbutt

    And now it is clear from today’s news that the Highlanders are about to be purchased by DVML or their mates. What did the Councillors know?

  21. Russell Garbutt

    It appears that Councillors were NOT informed and so how is it possible for ratepayers to be committed to pro rugby? Time for revolt!

    • Elizabeth

      Russell, this is another reason to not allow Dunedin water assets to be moved into a council company (with a mind of its own) structure. Councillors (our community representatives) lose control.

  22. Phil

    You sum it up well there, Russell. In creating such a massive debt that relies entirely on the success of one organisation, the positions of power have been turned around. If the stadium doesn’t make money out of rugby (and ok, we know that’s a dream) then the stadium and Council fails. Rugby is already broke, so it has nothing to lose. If it does nothing, it’s no worse off. Council, on the other hand, must attempt to move heaven and earth to try and make rugby succeed. From the moment the stadium project was signed off by Council it became the Highlanders, ORFU, and NZFRU who immediately gained the power position over Council.

  23. Russell Garbutt

    It is a well accepted fact that if you owe the bank $100k and can’t pay then you have a problem but if you owe the bank $400m and can’t pay then the bank has a problem. Substitute the appropriate names and you see the reality.

  24. Anonymous

    @Russell, however it turns out if you owe the bank $2 million, YOU still have a problem…

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