Canterbury has plunged further into chaos with the club’s major sponsor – The Laundy Group – threatening to abandon the Bulldogs.
Canterbury has plunged further into chaos with the club’s major sponsor – The Laundy Group – threatening to abandon the Bulldogs.

Pub tycoon’s $2m threat to brawling Bulldogs

The Bulldogs' major sponsor - the $800 million Laundy hotel group - has threatened to abandon its $2 million of funding in the wake of a boardroom brawl they have described as "political bastardry".

Chair Lynne Anderson, John Ballesty and Paul Dunn are understood to be on the verge of standing down to prevent an extraordinary general meeting to remove them which has infuriated the club's major sponsors.

News Corp Australia understands the trio is likely to resign in coming days.

Craig Laundy, a minister in Malcolm Turnbull's old government, was savage in his criticism of club members on Thursday afternoon and threatened to withdraw the sponsorship.

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Bulldogs chair Lynne Anderson surrounded by CEO Andrew Hill, football manager Stephen Litvensky and pathways and development officer Craig Wilson. Picture: Brett Costello
Bulldogs chair Lynne Anderson surrounded by CEO Andrew Hill, football manager Stephen Litvensky and pathways and development officer Craig Wilson. Picture: Brett Costello

 

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"I've been around politics for a long time," Laundy said, "This is my first dance with rugby league and Canterbury's politics.

"I've seen some silly things happen in my time but to see this happen, instigated by members before we have oxygen and clear air with a new coach and new players, I would consider it an act of political bastardry. We're watching with great interest."

Laundy says his family would have no hesitation in getting out.

"If there were to be changes at board level, we'd need to know those people on the new board would share our vision for the club," he said.

"We agreed to be involved and sign on in good faith with the board as it is currently configured.

"We have the ability to walk away. We need to have confidence in the people running the club."

Canterbury Bulldogs sponsor launch with chief executive Andrew Hill at the Twin Willows Hotel, Bass Hill. Andrew holds the new Bulldogs jersey with Laundy Hotels owner Arthur Laundy. Picture: Brett Costello
Canterbury Bulldogs sponsor launch with chief executive Andrew Hill at the Twin Willows Hotel, Bass Hill. Andrew holds the new Bulldogs jersey with Laundy Hotels owner Arthur Laundy. Picture: Brett Costello

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He says his father Arthur Laundy, who owns 72 hotels and is worth $800 million, was hoping to be involved long term.

"We want to dip our toes into the water for the next two years, but, if it goes as well as we hoped it would, I would consider it a lifelong involvement," he said.

"Dad is absolutely committed to the long term future of this club.

"If the members have another person prepared to open a war chest, beyond our original two years and well into the future, put your hand up and we'll says thanks very much and go."

Anderson, Dunn and Ballesty were expected to stand down at Thursday afternoon's board meeting.

The trio were swept into power on a reform ticket in 2018, replacing former chairman Ray Dib and others, but have been unable to turn around the Bulldogs' fortunes.

Dunn was only recently appointed as chairman of the Canterbury Leagues club, a position he will now have to relinquish if he steps down.

 

Paul Dunn, John Ballesty and Lynne Anderson with Steve Price (white shirt). Picture: Christian Gilles
Paul Dunn, John Ballesty and Lynne Anderson with Steve Price (white shirt). Picture: Christian Gilles

 

The three board members have come to the realisation that they lack the support to survive.

Ballesty has come under fire in recent days over his role in the Laundy sponsorship and his failure to disclose his business interests in one of the family's hotels.

Their likely departure leaves Peter Mortimer, Joe Thomas, John Khoury and Adrian Turner as the surviving directors at the embattled club.

They would turn to the membership to replace the three departing directors

"We can't believe, because things are on the up and up, that they'd choose this point in time, this close to having the new coach at pre-season, to call on an extraordinary general meeting," Laundy said.

"I'd call on anyone who has signed the document for an EGM to have a think about the impact on the new squad, the new squad and the people we are trying to sign.

"It sends a bad message. The hard yards have been done by this current board.

"This club needs to be unified and working in one direction."

Originally published as Pub tycoon's $2m threat to brawling Bulldogs