Newcastle Olympic Football Club has missed out on federal funding for a new grandstand and sporting facility upgrades.
The club applied unsuccessfully for a Community Sport Infrastructure grant – the program at the heart of the Morrison Government’s shocking ‘sports rorts’ scandal.
“Newcastle Olympic Football Club is a well-loved Newcastle institution, particularly in the Greek community who are obviously passionate about their football,” Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said.
“The fact that this deserving project didn’t receive funding is a slap in the face to all the hardworking volunteers who worked on the grant application for months on the mistaken understanding that it would be judged on its merit,” she added.
The Club had applied for $500,000 in federal funding to supplement a $500,000 commitment from the City of Newcastle and $200,000 from the Club’s own fundraising efforts.
The proposed project would have taken the facilities at Darling Street Oval to the next level, with a brand-new grandstand for Olympic’s passionate fans and upgrades which would encourage more participation, particularly among the club’s four female teams.
“Once completed, this upgrade would allow community groups and players year-round use and bring the ageing facilities up to spec for National Premiere League and FFA Cup competitions,” Claydon stated.
It has been revealed that the Darling Street project scored 76/100 in the independent analysis undertaken by Sports Australia. “It’s simply not right that Olympic missed out while the Morrison Government gave grants to projects with scores as low as 39/100...The Morrison Government shamelessly used this publicly funded grants program as its own personal election slush fund, ignoring independent advice and awarding grants to Coalition-targeted seats rather than projects based on merit. This is a government that repeatedly thumbs its nose at due process, fairness and integrity," she further added.
Newcastle Olympic Secretary Con Gounis, was shocked about the rejected application as he had initially thought the club was in with a good chance of securing funding.
“We thought we did our due diligence and we thought we were a pretty good chance. When you find out why we’ve missed out – you just think that’s not the Australian way, it’s just not right,” Gounis said.
“We just wanted a level playing field, that’s all we wanted, to be judged on merit – if you’re successful, great, if not we’ll try again – well it doesn’t look like that has happened and that’s disappointing,” he added.
Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon has written to the Prime Minister to request that the Government deliver the Darling Street project funding in line with its obvious merit.