Seeking to choke off a rallying cry from diehard Bulldogs supporters barking mad for Belmore, Back to Belmore President Luke Brailey has told the executive committee that the organisation will not be seeking to demand or force the Canterbury-Bankstown Rugby League Football Club to stage a select number of their NRL matches at Belmore Sports Ground, even if the venue is brought up to NRL standard with further funding from the state and federal government.
Mr Brailey told his committee members during their monthly closed meeting last night that the idea of demanding the Bulldogs to play matches at Belmore "isn't in the cards and we are not interested in pursuing it," Operations Manager Steven Cataldi said.
Since the Bulldogs' trial match against the Roosters in February, many supporters of the club have called for Back to Belmore to force the issue of the 2012 Grand Finalists playing at least one or two premiership fixtures at their spiritual home.
"The Back to Belmore platform fully supports the right of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to stage NRL matches at Belmore Sports Ground if they freely so determine," said Mr Cataldi.
"Whilst it is not our policy to determine where the Bulldogs play their NRL matches, Back to Belmore would certainly encourage the club to return to Belmore for a select number of their fixtures provided that the venue is returned to an acceptable NRL standard. We believe the media and community interest such a move would create would greatly benefit the cause of Back to Belmore, but it is not our decision to make. It is evidently clear that a large majority of Bulldogs supporters would love to see their team return to Belmore, but the issue does not need to be forced. We are confident that the Bulldogs are already well aware of local sentiments."
Vice President Luke Cevolani expressed deep regret that many people had misinterpreted the goals and objectives of the leading advocate for Belmore Sports Ground's restoration and preservation.
"Regrettably, the objectives surrounding Back to Belmore Inc. have become clouded, straying far from the purpose of the movement, and has mistakenly centred on the issue of the Bulldogs playing NRL matches at Belmore Sports Ground." said Mr Cevolani.
"Those who choose to argue on that basis have misunderstood the intent of our movement. Back to Belmore was founded in 2005 on the basis that restoring Belmore Sports Ground is necessary to meet the current and future needs of the Canterbury-Bankstown district's aspiring sports players. Hence, it is our obligation to passionately promote the development of local sport and athletes in our area and the redevelopment and restoration of Belmore Sports Ground as a multi-purpose sporting facility."
At the Annual General Meeting in July, Mr Brailey said Back to Belmore is supportive of the historic facility hosting major sporting events in the long-term future including NRL matches but added: "At the end of the day, we can make suggestions and point out the benefits to any sporting group wishing to use the exemplary facilities but it is ultimately not our decision to make. We need to be respectful of the Bulldogs' right to make informed decisions about where they wish to stage their matches and have confidence that the key stakeholders of the venue will exhaust all avenues to make it happen if they choose to do so."
For the past few years, Mr Brailey has made clear to his executive committee and the public alike that Back to Belmore Inc. has no interest in demanding NRL matches be played at Belmore Sports Ground, though many supporters are certainly doing their damnedest to change his mind. The Back to Belmore President remains unpersuaded, believing that forcing the issue would fail and in the process create unnecessary hostility and friction with the primary occupant of the historic venue and tarnish the Back to Belmore brand.
"We all have an obligation to work together constructively for the benefit of the venue and local sport. Any decision to examine the prospect of playing NRL matches at Belmore Sports Ground is the responsibility of the Bulldogs and Back to Belmore fully supports the right of the club to decide what they wish to do on this issue," Mr Brailey said.