A Sydney council has voted for a million-dollar partnership with wealthy NRL club Parramatta Eels in a row that has split the council’s Labor majority.

The City of Parramatta voted in December for the first year of a three-year deal that could have been worth as much as $2.4 million.

This first year was worth $385,500.

The council’s logo would be displayed on the back of the jersey for the NRL women’s team in the first year.

There was a suggestion to place the emblem on the men’s jersey in the second and third years.

However, on Monday night, the council approved a $1.1 million transaction and elected not to include the council’s insignia on the men’s shirt.

The contract includes a women’s sports scholarship in Western Sydney, as well as support for player clinics, vacation camps, and game-day events in Parramatta’s central business district.

It sparked criticism from councillors who felt that council funds should not be spent on the professional rugby league club.

Party division

City of Parramatta Mayor Pierre Esber, along with Labor Deputy Mayor Patricia Prociv and Labor councillor Cameron MacLean, voted against the deal in December and again Monday.

Greens councillor Phil Bradley and independent councillor Kellie Darley also voted against the proposal both times.

 

Meanwhile, three Labour councillors, four from Our Local Community, and two independents voted in favor of the plan.

Mr Esber stated that spending council money on the collaboration did not pass the pub test.

“Nobody loves rugby league more than I, but we can spend the money on toilet blocks, upgrading parks, upgrading playing fields,” he remarked.

“At the end of the day, you’re there to supply roads, rates, and garbage.

“The Eels are a very successful rugby league club. They have plenty of money. “They don’t need our money.”

During Monday night’s meeting, independent councillor Kellie Darley moved to rescind the contract.

Ms Darley, however, withdrew the move after other councillors opted to examine it in a closed session.

Ms Darley questioned the benefit of putting the council’s brand on a team with the same name.

She said that the majority of Eels supporters lived in the council area.

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“So I think they already know who the council is,” Ms Darley said on ABC Radio Sydney.

“We have a backlog of walkways to fix. We have playgrounds that have passed their use-by date, as well as stormwater pipes that require repair.

“That is our fundamental business. That’s what people want to see us do, not sponsor the Eels.

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