Redlands Rugby League Club to open bottle shop, run online raffles as realities of COVID-19 financial crisis hits sporting clubs

REDLANDS Rugby League Club will open a bottle shop and run online raffles as part of a plan to ease the financial burden during the COVID-19 pandemic.

TEST OF CHARACTER: Redlands Rugby League Club are struggling with finances as the COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll on sporting clubs.

TEST OF CHARACTER: Redlands Rugby League Club are struggling with finances as the COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll on sporting clubs.

It comes after junior and senior competitions were put on hold indefinitely this month, leading to a loss of match day revenue in the canteen and bar.

President Todd Flahey told the Redland City Bulletin that the club had lost its major income sources but planned to open a drive-through bottle shop at Pinklands Sporting Complex during the pandemic to bring in money that could be used to keep on top of mounting costs.

"We are going to do a drive through bottle shop just because that's the only thing we can do," Flahey said.

"We should launch that this weekend. We are not going to make millions out of it but it is a way to keep paying the bills.

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"The licensing rules have been relaxed a little bit to help but we have effectively lost every form of income possible at the club which is not good because we've still got a lot of bills to pay.

"Week to week we had a canteen and bar running for our footy so that was where our income came from. That only operates for eight months of the year so that income had to float us until March."

The club was meant to be celebrating its 50th season this year but they now face an uncertain future as the true toll of the coronavirus crisis comes to light.

Renovations to the clubhouse which were being undertaken by Skilling Queenslanders for Work recruits will be put on hold indefinitely on Friday while the club will also miss out on hosting a lucrative Queensland Cup clash between Wynnum-Manly and Ipswich after the season was cancelled last week.

Flahey said he had reached out to local politicians asking for funding to assist with keeping the club financially stable during the pandemic and had urged other sporting clubs to do the same.

"This is our 50th year and we put a lot of hours in when there was no footy to make sure this season was the best ever," Flahey said.

"Unfortunately we now face not having a season at all. It makes it really hard because it is not just us that are struggling, now people are struggling.

"Players have paid fees to play rugby league, a lot of them up front. They are asking whether they can get some money back and I don't blame them.

"We can't do that now because the QRL still say there could be a season but it puts a lot of pressure on us. A lot of people are under a lot of financial stress at the moment with people losing their jobs.

"This will be the same for a lot of sporting clubs. If they don't have incomes there is a few that won't survive."

While the situation is dire, the club can dip into an emergency fund that they created to help pay bills while there is no money coming into the club.

"It is not much money but it will help play the utilities and rates for the next three months which is good," Flahey said.

"The hardest part is sporting clubs only have a limited season. We run for eight months then we have to head into 2021. We are still a long way from there and a lot of bills that will have to be paid between now and then.

"It is actually shattering. From a player's perspective, from a parent's perspective and from the committee perspective, everybody is in the same boat. We all don't know what is going on. It is heartbreaking."

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