Get Newsletter

Rebels face more hurdles despite rescue plan

NEWS: A vote to save the Melbourne Rebels may prove to be only a stay of execution, with the debt-ridden Super Rugby Pacific franchise facing further hurdles in its bid to stay alive.


Creditors on Friday voted to accept a proposal by a private investor group that includes current directors rather than liquidate the franchise, which has debts of more than AUS$23 million.

The consortium, involving former Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford, proposed a Deed Of Company Arrangement (DOCA), which guaranteed employees 100 percent of their entitlements but would leave unsecured creditors with as little as 15 cents to the dollar.

Committing to an investment of more than AUS$25 million over the next five years, the plan involves a move to Melbourne’s western suburbs to share facilities with A-League club Western United.

The proposal was recommended by PwC voluntary administrator Stephen Longley, who also said in his report last week that the franchise may have operated insolvent for more than five years.

It’s believed Longley had the deciding vote on Friday after the creditor vote was tied.

However, the DOCA is dependent upon the Rebels regaining the Super Rugby participation licence from Rugby Australia (RA), which took control when the franchise entered voluntary administration in January.


RA, which has propped up the franchise this season, taking over the wages bill for players and staff, has given no indication of its plans for the franchise, who joined the competition in 2011.

It’s believed RA voted against salvaging the franchise, with the Australian Financial Review reporting that the governing body claimed the independent report by Longley was biased towards the former directors.

The Rebels’ second obstacle is the Australia Tax Office, which also voted against the proposal, a source told AAP.

As well as the licence, the new deal is dependent on the ATO releasing the directors from their personal liability over the club’s AUS$11.5 million in tax debts.


The likelihood is that the matter will end up in the courts, leaving players, coaches and Rebels staff in limbo.

The meeting occurred just hours before the Rebels were scheduled to host the Blues in a Super Rugby Pacific match in Melbourne on Friday.

Including this weekend’s round, there are only five matches remaining before finals, with Melbourne on target to make the play-offs for the first time.

Consortium spokesperson Georgia Widdup welcomed the successful vote and urged the governing body to support the new plan for rugby in the state.

“The Melbourne Rebels are an integral part of the sporting fabric of the state and play a critical role in making Melbourne the sporting capital of the world,” she said in a statement.

“Today’s [Friday’s] decision ensures the women’s and men’s franchise can progress plans for our financially sustainable future.

“There is still a lot of work to do, but with the vote out of the way and a lot of community and government goodwill behind the franchise, we can finally get excited about what the future holds, and we urge Rugby Australia to support rugby in Victoria.”

Join free

Allianz Premiership Women's Rugby 2023/24 | Round 15 Highlights

New Zealand v USA | Pacific Four Series 2024 | Full Match Replay

Pieter-Steph du Toit, The Malmesbury Missile, in conversation with Big Jim

Australia v Canada | Pacific Four Series 2024 | Full Match Replay

Rugby Africa Women's Cup | Madagascar v Cameroon | Full Match Replay

The Antoine Dupont Interview

Fresh Starts | Episode 3 | Cobus Reinach

Aotearoa Rugby Podcast | Episode 11

Chasing The Sun | Series 1 Episode 1

Write A Comment