Northern Grampians Shire Council has put its foot forward to help the Stawell Athletic Club ensure the success and longevity of the Stawell Gift.
Last week the club confirmed the prize pool for both 2019 men’s and women’s Gifts will drop by more than half to $25,000 each.
The club said the drop is not definite, with room to move back up should a major sponsor or some other form of financial assistance come their way.
That help may come in the form of the Northern Grampians Shire, with Council confirming an offer has been made to assist the club with the event.
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Northern Grampians Shire chief executive Michael Bailey said he could not confirm the specific details of the pending offer with significant work still required to formalise a contract.
“We presented the club with a discussion document. As with every sponsorship agreement certain conditions need to be met and we are still working on fine-tuning those conditions,” he said.
“Our offer is based on maintaining the prestige of the Stawell Gift. We believe we have presented an opportunity for them to maintain that high level of prizemoney and maintain that prestige.”
Mr Bailey said council currently provides $30,000 worth of race sponsorship for the event, with a “significant amount” of other resources dedicated to the Gift’s facility.
Stawell Athletic Club committee member Robert Irvine said discussions were still ongoing on Wednesday.
The state government has also become involved with the issue, with Council and the SAC working closely with them to find a resolution.
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“We’ve been working with the Northern Grampians Shire Council and the Stawell Athletics Club to ensure the successful running of the 2019 Stawell Gift and the long-term sustainability of the event,” a Victorian government spokesperson said.
Ripon MP Louise Staley said it is imperative the government takes action given the importance of the Gift to Stawell.
"The Stawell gift is iconic to the region, if you ask anyone in Australia what Stawell is known for it is the Gift,” she said.
"It is on the state government to be proactive in working with the Stawell Athletic Club committee to find solutions to make it prosper.
"It should be treated with the same level of interest as say the Australian Open for Melbourne. Obviously it does not attract as many people but it is as equally important in terms of the boost it gives to the Stawell economy."
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