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Melbourne Storm move in doubt as Albury council calls extraordinary meeting

Plans by NRL powerhouse Melbourne Storm to move its training base to Albury have been thrown into doubt, with the local council calling an extraordinary meeting tonight.

The team was due to start training at Albury’s Greenfield Park from tomorrow, after being given clearance by the New South Wales Government.

But Albury City Councillor David Thurley said some councillors who were not happy with the decision to allow the club to relocate to the region would now voice their concerns at tonight’s meeting.

“Albury council didn’t get involved until Saturday afternoon when a phone call was made to the Mayor and that was the first that we really found out about these plans,” Mr Thurley said.

He said he was concerned for both the safety of the community and the confusion the double standards in rules caused.

“This is not a virus that decides ‘I do well in Victoria and not so well in New South Wales’. It is everywhere and we need uniformity and not double standards,” he said.

“I am probably a little more reassured about the safety after the briefing we had last night, but I am not totally reassured.”

Two men walk across a football field in Albury, New South Wales
Melbourne Storm CEO Dave Donaghy and Albury Mayor Kevin Mack at Albury’s Greenfield Park.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Ashlee Aldridge)

Mr Thurley said if the move did still go ahead after tonight’s meeting he wanted to see strict rules put in place.

“In fact, my challenge to Melbourne Storm if it ends up happening is one breach and you’re all out.

“I don’t want any player getting a fine or suspension or sent back home for being a naughty boy. One breach and you’re all gone.”

Mr Thurley said he understood border residents’ frustrations that they were unable to participate in sport and other activities, but that an interstate NRL Club could use local facilities.

“The only argument you can make is that this is employment and there are slightly different rules around employment,” he said.

“But I think that’s a fairly weak argument in my opinion.”

Tonight’s council meeting will give councillors the opportunity to have “their say in the matter”, which Mr Thurley said up until now they had not been given the opportunity to have.

A motion is expected to be put forward during the meeting for councillors to decide on whether the club can relocate to the region.

But Mr Thurley admitted he did not know if that would have any impact in stopping the club from setting up its training camp in the city.

“We’re waiting on a report from our chief executive officer,” he said.

“Given they have approvals from the NSW Government and if they can find a place to play I’m not sure the councillors at the City of Albury have any power to stop them.”

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy is directed to be screened on arrival at AAMI Park.
Coach Craig Bellamy is screened upon arriving for a briefing session for players and staff at AAMI Park in Melbourne.(AAP: Rob Prezioso)

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