By Nathan Klein
20 March 2007 - Canterbury-Bankstown Express
A GROUP of Bulldogs fans says it has been left in "total bewilderment and verging on anger and frustration" after the Canterbury Bulldogs president George Peponis admitted his club would play home games at Telstra Stadium for the next 15 years.
Back to Belmore president Luke Brailey said the decision to abandon Belmore Sportsground was done without considering members and their feelings.
"I respect the Bulldogs' rights to make informed decisions about the future of the club. However, our committee is not convinced that the club has fully examined the Belmore issue before choosing its present course at Telstra," he said.
"Canterbury and Bankstown need a sporting venue that will serve and meet the needs of the community."
The long-term commitment to Telstra was discovered earlier this month, during the football club's annual general meeting.
Mr Brailey said his group was doing everything possible to bring the Bulldogs back to their traditional homeland. It would not rest until it secured a government grant to upgrade Belmore.
"Funding is the key to bring the Dogs back home," he said.
"The football club needs more muscle when pressuring the state and federal governments for a grant.
"The NSW Premier has already allocated $7 million to upgrade Oki Jubilee Stadium - which is not even in his constituency.
"He has a moral obligation to the residents in his electorate to address the totally unacceptable state of Belmore Sportsground."
According to Mr Brailey, Back to Belmore was only pushing for games that did not attract large crowds of more than 20,000 supporters to be played at Belmore.
He said the government grants had already been issued to teams such as St George, Wests Tigers and the Cronulla Sharks, who have similar venues.
"If the Dragons, Sharks and Tigers can all secure funding then there is no reason why we can't," he said. "The battle for Belmore will be tough and hard-fought - but our committee will no doubt continue to pursue this issue. We can win - but to do so we need to convince the government that the dilapidated venue is worthy of being upgraded.
"To do this, we will need the football club's unwavering support."