Balmain Leagues Club -The future of City Tatts?

The Balmain Leagues Club development application was rejected by the Land and Environment Court last week.

So Balmain Leagues remain homeless, entirely dependent on the outcome of the property development to get back to their premises.

This should be a warning to any club that thinks a property development is the way forward.

And maybe it’s giving us a vision of the future of City Tatts, whose DA has been in the Land and Environment Court since June and by all accounts is going nowhere.

The similarities are striking:

Balmain Leagues Club has now made four attempts at getting planning permission, and failed every time.

City Tattersalls Club has already made two attempts over two years and failed each time.

Balmain Leagues Club was rejected because the Land and Environment had doubts about the “long-term viability” of the club after the property development.

Anyone who has looked at the City Tattersalls Club property proposal has raised doubts about the long-term viability of the club after the development. The fit-out of it’s bare concrete floors alone would probably cripple the club.

Balmain Leagues Club still owes $11 million to the developer, even though the whole point of the property development was supposedly to solve their debt problem.

City Tattersalls Club now estimates it will have to borrow at least $7 million to finish the fit-out of it’s floors if the development goes ahead. The real problem with that is every estimate given to members so far in this property development has been wrong, badly wrong. You only have to look at the estimated cost of the DA itself. First it was “at no cost to the club”, … then $50,000, … then $290,000. Now it’s over $2 million and still rising.  

But there is one big difference between City Tatts and other clubs attempting a property development.

At City Tatts there is no need for a property development.

City Tatts Information Desk


6 months without Tony Guilfoyle

This week marks six months since Tony Guilfoyle’s dramatic exit from City Tatts.

Yes. six months without a CEO!

And it has made no difference whatsoever to the operation of the club!

Every bit of the club runs just the same without him. This is final proof of what City Tatts watchers said for years – he was being paid $12,000 a week for doing nothing.

Think about it – Mark Cooper can do the CEO job in his spare time, while he continues as financial controller!

But in fact the club is much better off without Guilfoyle.

First, there was his insane salary. The club has already saved $300,000 in those six months. And another $50,000 plus on the “marketing manager”, Kirsty Assad, who for some bizarre reason had to go the same night as Guilfoyle.

But salaries are just part of the savings. The club has gained in other ways.

To take just one example, very few realise how much money Guilfoyle blew on his City Tatts perpetual building program. During his 12 years as CEO, over $25 million was spent on building works within the club. That’s over $2 million a year.

Every one of these jobs was a failure in one way or another. Either they were badly managed or, more likely, just a stupid idea to begin with. If you were to put a value on the completed jobs you would struggle to get to $15 million. In other words $10 million is gone with nothing to show for it.

And that’s just one area of waste.

Who knows how much Guilfoyle would have blown if he was still there?

City Tatts Information Desk

Corrupt Campion’s path to a property fraud – Step 9. The Second Preferred Developer

After Mirvac dropped it, the attempted property development became a complete shambles. This is hardly a surprise. Tweedledum and Tweedledee had demonstrated they couldn’t run a snack bar, so a complicated property development was always likely to end in disaster.

It also meant that Campion’s lies got more desperate. In fact it was no longer possible to tell the truth. All the useless PR slogans, dished out to members about how well the development was going, were shattered. Mirvac, the great “preferred developer” preferred not to be involved, which meant any replacement could only ever be the “second preferred developer”.

Apart from the lies and deception the whole property development attempt became quite comical.

You may recall how, when Mirvac were anointed in December 2013, Patrick Campion listed the reasons they were chosen:

  • They had extensive experience of building in Sydney
  • They had the team and facilities in-house to complete the project.
  • They had the financial strength to complete it

By April 2015 Campion and Guilfoyle were so desperate for a developer they went to Melbourne to find a new cobbled together “team” that lacked everything Campion said he wanted in a developer.

You will not be surprised to hear that the project has not advanced one iota since then.

In another comic touch Campion told members that the new developer had been granted a “six month exclusivity period” – as if anyone else wanted it by then!

By the way, members were also told that the “new team will cover the cost of the new DA”.

Can someone get Campion to explain how the Club has now spent $2 million on the DA and still doesn’t have one?

City Tatts Information Desk

Corrupt Campion’s path to a property fraud – Step 8. Getting rid of Wendy Fisher

In February 2015 the vice chairperson of the Club, Wendy Fisher, collapsed in the foyer and was taken to hospital.

But at City Tatts there is always more to the story.

It soon emerged that this happened while she was excluded from a Committee meeting.

And it was not the first time she had been excluded from a Committee meeting.

It didn’t take long to figure out what was happening. She was being excluded from the part of the meeting where the property development was discussed because she had started to ask questions about it.

It also emerged that this was part of a wider push by Tony Guilfoyle and Patrick Campion to get rid of her. It was bad enough that she was already questioning the property scheme but what really worried Guilfoyle was that one day she might be Chairman. Guilfoyle knew that with Campion as Chairman he could do whatever he wanted. He worried that it might be very different with another Chairman.

In any case, Wendy Fisher had enough of City Tatts by then and resigned a few months later, in April. She didn’t even wait until her term was up in May, which must be telling us something.

On it’s own, Campion’s behaviour towards Wendy Fisher is not a big deal. In fact it was quite normal at City Tatts when anyone questioned the insane mismanagement of the Club. Employees, and members, were treated the same way.

But when it is part of a bigger scheme to push through a fraudulent property development regardless of whether there is any benefit to members, it’s a lot more serious.

City Tatts Information Desk

Corrupt Campion’s path to a property fraud – Step 7. Mirvac’s Rejection

The City Tatts property development (ie. Tony Guilfoyle’s property plan) was riddled with flaws from the start.

But until October 2014 Campion and Guilfoyle could claim it was going well, and most members wouldn’t know any better.

That all changed in late October 2014 when Mirvac dropped the project.

This was a devastating blow to Campion and Guilfoyle. And it showed. At the meeting to inform members, Campion looked like he was at a funeral.

The news was not a complete surprise to everyone. There had been a number of blogs in the months leading up to it suggesting that Mirvac might drop the project.

Campion must have realised that Mirvac’s rejection was probably the end of the development.

He had gifted Mirvac a prime CBD site for $25 million, when $75 million would be a starting point for negotiations – and still they didn’t want it!  That was bound to be a clear signal to every other major developer to stay away.

Which is why Campion and Guilfoyle were eventually forced to go with a Melbourne broker who had never built anything in Sydney.

So Mirvac’s rejection was not just a devastating blow back then. It hangs over the project to this day.

And Mirvac’s rejection was also the point of no return for Campion.

He knew that this could blow the lid on the whole property fraud. (For example, the secret $250,000 payment by Mirvac was revealed for the first time) And he knew that it was too late to start telling members the truth. It was going to be lies all the way from then on, until the property development ended – or the Club went broke.

So Campion ramped up the lies.

Here is a selection of what he told members about Mirvac’s rejection:

  • “This does not affect the Club’s development program”
  • “There is no change to the timing of the development approval”
  • “DA approval is expected by March 2015”
  • “It is possible we will lose one month”
  • “Club is likely to benefit from this turn of events”
  • “Cost to complete Stage 1 DA for approval by council is $295,000”

These were all lies at the time but now they are just hilarious!

And finally, in all his useless propaganda he never told members the real reason why Mirvac walked away.

City Tatts Information Desk

Corrupt Campion’s path to a property fraud – Step 6. Getting rid of Johny Bineham

By the middle of 2014, the insane Guilfoyle property scheme seemed to be in full swing.

But not everyone was fooled.

Johny Bineham had been having a good look at the management of the Club – and didn’t like what he saw.

He also started asking questions about the proposed property development, at the “member briefings” held to promote it.

He quizzed Campion about the illegal mortgage. He also asked detailed questions about parts of the property development such as the “Wailing Wall” needed to create the so-called “interim club”.

One afternoon, in July 2014, he got a phone call from Jan Ellks to tell him he was suspended from the club, effective immediately.

The Club rules clearly state that a member can only be suspended after he is brought before the committee and given an opportunity to answer any charges. This never happened.

And the explanation is very simple.

He was suspended that afternoon to prevent him from attending the latest “member briefing” held that evening.

We don’t claim to understand the legal system, but we believe the facts of the Bineham case would be devastating to Patrick Campion in any court.

What defence could Campion offer?

Like so much of what he has done, it’s all documented fact. He can’t change it.

In the end the only possible conclusion of any court would be that Campion broke the rules of the club, again, in a desperate attempt to conceal the truth about the property development.

City Tatts Information Desk


Corrupt Campion’s path to a property fraud – Step 5. The Mirvac Deal

In December 2013 Patrick Campion announced with great fanfare that Mirvac had been chosen as “preferred developer”.

And he backed this up with a number of sound reasons why they were the right choice.

Of course, as we all know, all of this came to nothing within 12 months when Mirvac dropped the project.

But apart from the dismal failure of the Mirvac experiment it is important to remember just how fraudulent the deal with Mirvac was.

Campion agreed to an extraordinary deal where Mirvac would complete the fit-out of the hotel and apartments to “warm shell”  stage, but hand over bare concrete floors (‘cold shell”) to the club for it’s premises.

Mirvac must have realised there was something very strange about not being asked to finish the club floors.

And they would have known. better than anyone, that the miserable amount of money they were giving the club, $25 million, would all be needed for the fit-out – which meant the deal left the club no better off than before.

If Mirvac did the whole job it would mean:

  1. The project would be completed sooner and more efficiently
  2. The overall project would cost less
  3. The finished premises would be handed over to the club at a predetermined cost
  4. The club could go to members for approval with exact details of the financial position the club would be in after completion

City Tatts insiders knew the only reason why Campion and Guilfoyle didn’t want Mirvac to do everything was to allow Guilfoyle and his mates to skim off the money allocated for the club fit-out.

The more Mirvac got into the project the more they realised that City Tatts was rotten and that if anyone ever looked at the City Tatts deal they might be implicated in a fraud.

So they made a very wise decision to walk away before that happened.

City Tatts Information Desk