Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
New Zealand New Zealand
France France

Melbourne Rebels face yet more problems in fight to stay alive

Rebels players react after conceding the first try of the match during the round four Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and Queensland Reds at AAMI Park, on March 15, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

A vote to save the Melbourne Rebels may prove to be only a stay of execution, with the debt-ridden Super Rugby Pacific club facing further hurdles in its bid to stay alive.


Creditors on Friday voted to accept a proposal by a private investor group that includes current directors rather than liquidate the club, which has debts of more than $23 million.

The consortium, involving former Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford, proposed a Deed Of Company Arrangement (DOCA), which guaranteed employees 100 per cent of their entitlements but would leave unsecured creditors with as little as 15 cents to the dollar.

Video Spacer

Chasing the Sun on RugbyPass TV | RPTV

Chasing the Sun, the extraordinary documentary that traces the Springboks’ road to victory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, is coming to RugbyPass TV.

Watch now

Video Spacer

Chasing the Sun on RugbyPass TV | RPTV

Chasing the Sun, the extraordinary documentary that traces the Springboks’ road to victory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, is coming to RugbyPass TV.

Watch now

Committing to an investment of more than $25 million over the next five years, the plan involves a move to Melbourne’s western suburbs to share facilities with A-League club Western United.

The proposal was recommended by PwC voluntary administrator Stephen Longley, who also said in his report last week that the club may have operated insolvent for more than five years.

Super Rugby Pacific
11 - 38
All Stats and Data

It’s believed Longley had the deciding vote on Friday after the creditor vote was tied.

However, the DOCA is dependent upon the Rebels regaining the Super Rugby participation licence from Rugby Australia (RA), which took control when the club entered voluntary administration in January.

RA, which has propped up the club this season, taking over the wages bill for players and staff, has given no indication of its plans for the club, who joined the competition in 2011.


It’s believed RA voted against salvaging the club, with the Australian Financial Review reporting that the governing body claimed the independent report by Longley was biased towards the former directors.

The Rebels’ second obstacle is the Australia Tax Office, which also voted against the proposal, a source told AAP.

As well as the licence, the new deal is dependent on the ATO releasing the directors from their personal liability over the club’s $11.5 million in tax debts.

The likelihood is that the matter will end up in the courts, leaving players, coaches and Rebels staff in limbo.


The meeting occurred just hours before the Rebels were scheduled to host the Blues in a Super Rugby Pacific match at AAMI Park on Friday night.

Including this weekend’s round, there are only five matches remaining before finals, with Melbourne on target to make the playoffs for the first time.

Consortium spokesperson Georgia Widdup welcomed the successful vote and urged the governing body to support the new plan for rugby in the state.

“The Melbourne Rebels are an integral part of the sporting fabric of the state and play a critical role in making Melbourne the sporting capital of the world,” she said in a statement.

“Today’s decision ensures the women’s and men’s club can progress plans for our financially sustainable future.

“There is still a lot of work to do, but with the vote out of the way and a lot of community and government goodwill behind the club, we can finally get excited about what the future holds, and we urge Rugby Australia to support rugby in Victoria.”



Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


As part of a series of planned improvements, we will need you to reset your RugbyPass password from 24/07/24 to continue commenting on articles.

You don’t need to change anything until that time.

Thank you,


Be the first to comment...

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

TRENDING Eddie Jones' Japan humbled by Italy in Sapporo Eddie Jones' Japan humbled by Italy in Sapporo