THE Gold Coast Turf Club (GCTC) board has accepted a merger proposal with Racing Queensland Limited (RQL) that would see a multi-million dollar upgrade of training and racing facilities.
The deal signals the end of a bitter feud between the two camps. The proposal still needs to be passed in a vote by GCTC members and involves a 50/50 split ownership of the land and facilities.
Despite only months ago accusing QRL of attempting to ‘asset grab’ another key piece of Queensland racing infrastructure, GCTC chairman Andrew Eggleston says the deal is the best outcome for the club and its members.
“Common sense has prevailed. We’ve done a lot of negotiations in writing and when it is clear and things are in black and white things can move far quicker,” says Eggleston.
“We’ve done a lot of ground work behind the scenes, we knew what we wanted and we had to cut a deal that would be good for the Gold Coast Turf Club.
“It’s exciting times. It’s been an exhaustive year where we’ve worked very hard to getting a deal that would be satisfactory for everyone and I’m very confident that when this offer is put to our members they will support it.”
The dollar value on the merger has not been disclosed, but it’s believed it will result in major renovations of the members, corporate and public facilities; new training tracks; the race track will be improved; tunnels; and other significant capital works.
“It will see the Gold Coast become Queensland’s premier racing event if not Australia’s,” says Eggelston.
“The figure at this stage is confidential. It will be announced later with Racing Queensland and the Government but the figure is substantial and it quite adequately puts us up to the highest level of racing.”
In May RQL chairman Bob Bentley ordered a forensic accountant to check the GCTC books after it was discovered the club was almost half a million dollars in debt.
Bentley confirmed today however that the deal is ‘not about assets’ but securing racing on the Gold Coast.
“Everything is usually testy but in the end we were going to work it out,” he says.
“This is a strategic asset plan for the whole of Queensland; it’s not just about the Gold Coast. It’s a very big funding package. Obviously it’s before cabinet at the moment so I can’t give any detail but hopefully in the next few weeks they’ll give an answer and we can move forward.
“It’s about looking after and making sure the training facilities and racing facilities are up to scratch. It takes a huge cost centre away from the Gold Coast Turf Club and it gives them more money and more effort to put towards looking after members and the general public and getting them to the races.”
GCTC members will vote on the merger in November. Eggleston says there was no pressure to oppose the merger and believes the club’s members will fully support the board’s recommendation.
Eggelston also reiterated that the Magic Millions Carnival would be secured on the Gold Coast for the next seven years.
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