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‘Dogfight’ As Bulldogs Major Sponsor Threatens To Leave Over Board Controversy

T
he Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs could see their major sponsor, Laundy Hotels, end their affiliation with the club if any boardroom changes are made, despite a widespread call for three high-profile board members to be removed.

A letter with 116 signatories, including a combination of life members and premiership players, was reportedly tabled to Bulldogs chief executive, Andrew Hill, calling for chair, Lynne Anderson, John Ballesty, and Paul Dunn to be removed from the club’s board.

This call-to-action is believed to have been led by one of the club’s primary sponsors, which has gathered enough signatured to force an EGM under the club’s constitution, meaning the three board members in question will have 21 days to respond to the letter and organise an EGM.

After the EGM, the outcome could see a vote within 21 days to finalise any boardroom changes.

The club’s major sponsor however, Laundy Hotels, has threatened to end its partnership with the Bulldogs if any boardroom changes occur, with owner, Arthur Laundy, saying he will only sign a formal sponsorship contract next month if there is a clause inserted allowing him to remain hands on should there be board changes.

“If my wings were clipped at all in that area, I want it in my contract that I have the right to withdraw,” Laundy told the Herald.

“I’m prepared to sign [a sponsorship agreement] provided a condition is put in there that if I in any way have my powers restrained or taken away, I don’t want to be there.

“I want to mentor the kids, I want to look after the boys.

“I want the directors and these people to listen to me, I want to have a say.

“If they don’t want me, I don’t want to be there,” he said.

The boardroom drama has been ongoing for the Bulldogs for several months at this stage, after Canterbury League Club chairman, George Coorey, was removed earlier this month over allegations of lewd behaviour towards women, to which he threatened to take legal action over the decision.

Anderson, who was re-elected as chair earlier this year, has been at the helm for many reported boardroom rifts, including Ballesty failing to inform fellow board members that he is a co-owner of a hotel with club sponsor, Laundy.

Incoming head coach, Trent Barrett, is reportedly “unhappy” and “uncertain” about the environment he is walking into amid the board controversy.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s chief sports writer, Andrew Webster, said the players, as well as Barrett, are “pretty sick of the conjecture”.

“I know for a fact players, I’ve spoken to them directly, are pretty sick of the conjecture about their club,” Webster said on Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast.

“John Ballesty, he’s one of the board directors they’re trying to overthrow, makes relevant comments in The Herald today that ‘how the hell can Canterbury sign players and re-sign players when they’ve got so much instability at board level’.

“Then Trent Barrett has to walk into all of this.

“I get the sense, and I’ve heard from plenty of people around him, that he’s unhappy about it and he was a little bit uncertain about whether this was going to be the right move for him.

“I thought they were quite pointed comments from Phil Gould a few weeks ago.

“Gus doesn’t say anything for the sake of it, there’s usually some meaning behind it and when he said a few weeks ago that he thinks Trent Barrett should not go to Canterbury it was pretty telling,” he said.

Despite the ongoing controversy, the Bulldogs have managed to extend their existing partnership with Hitachi Cooling & Heating through to the end of the 2021 season.

Temperzone/Hitachi Cooling & Heating group brand manager, Damien Walsh, said he saw a real connection between Hitachi and the Bulldogs.

“Hitachi Cooling & Heating has a heritage that goes back more than 100 years of history and culture,” Walsh said.

“We are proud to extend our partnership for the 2021 season with the Bulldogs, a club that also has a long history and a club that continues to support the local community.

“We look forward to a great season ahead in 2021,” he said.