Rebels to face Blues following creditors’ vote on club

Melissa Woods |

Rebels coach Kevin Foote says his side will be focusing on the Blues, not off-field dramas.
Rebels coach Kevin Foote says his side will be focusing on the Blues, not off-field dramas.

Coach Kevin Foote says his team are trying to stay focused on their Super Rugby Pacific clash with the Blues on Friday, despite a meeting before kick-off that could spell the end of the Melbourne Rebels.

The Rebels host the Blues at AAMI Park on Friday night, with creditors meeting at 2pm to vote on whether to back a rescue deal to save the financially stricken outfit or allow the club to enter liquidation.

In his report last week, PwC voluntary administrator Stephen Longley recommended that creditors, including the Australian Tax Office, which is owed a total of $23.1 million, accept a proposal by a private investor group, including current directors.

Rebels directors have proposed a deed of company arrangement (DOCA), which would guarantee employees 100 per cent of their entitlements, but leave unsecured creditors with as little as 15 cents to the dollar.

However, even if the plan is accepted, Rugby Australia, which stepped in to prop up the team until the end of the 2024 season, still has the final say on whether to return the competition licence.

Foote said the entire club’s staff, including players, were addressed this week about the creditors’ meeting and the possible outcomes.

“It’s not the average week, going into the Blues when you’re discussing this stuff,” Foote told AAP.

“Our intention was to nail it early so as not to distract from the game, so from my perspective, focusing on the game is important.

“Friday is going to come and whatever comes we will be ready for it and that’s how we’ve been the whole year.

“There’s still so much uncertainty … we don’t know where Rugby Australia stands on this, and every week we hear the same thing that ‘we can’t tell you’.

“All we can focus on is the Blues.”

The Rebels sit fifth on the Super ladder but are coming off a 39-0 loss to the Crusaders, which ended a run of three successive victories.

Their scrum in particular misfired, with Foote swapping the entire front row after 31 minutes.

The second-placed Blues meanwhile roared home in their last outing to pip Queensland.

“We were bitterly disappointed about our performance in Christchurch,” Foote said.

“We had a slow start and then our set piece, but all facets of our game didn’t fire against the Crusaders.

“The guys have trained really well this week and we understand the physical challenge coming.”