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Investors threaten to abandon Royal Croquet Club: council CEO

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Investors are threatening to abandon the Royal Croquet Club’s 2018 event, days before it is due to begin setting up, says the CEO of the Adelaide City Council.

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Royal Croquet Club

Council boss Mark Goldstone says investors have told him that they will withdraw financial support for this year’s Royal Croquet Club if the council declines to grant a five-year licence for the Adelaide Fringe event hub.

According to agenda papers for tomorrow night’s special council meeting on the subject, those investors have also threatened to retract a $500,000 lifeline for the company – depending on what the council decides.

The Royal Croquet Club is due to begin setting up at Pinky Flat on the banks of the River Torrens next Monday for this year’s event, slated to begin February 15.

According to the agenda papers, members of council staff “understand” that investors will withdraw a $500,000 deed contribution – established to protect the embattled company from legal claims by creditors after it went into voluntary administration last year – if the five-year licence isn’t granted.

“In the event the 2018 Royal Croquet Club does not occur, Administration understands that the deed contribution as part of the voluntary administration process will not be paid,” the document says.

But Royal Croquet Club director Stuart Duckworth claims the documents are “incorrect” and will be amended before tomorrow night’s meeting.

Duckworth told InDaily “the facts will be updated and presented correctly on Tuesday night’s meeting”.

In response to questions, Goldstone said investors had threatened to withdraw support for the 2018 event, but did not comment on the alleged threat to withdraw the deed contribution.

“I confirm that the investors advised me that if a five year, multi-year event licence is not awarded to the RCC they will not proceed with providing financial backing to the event and therefore the RCC event will not proceed,” Goldstone told InDaily in a text message this afternoon.

InDaily understands tonight’s meeting concerning the Royal Croquet Club’s five-year event licence application was originally intended to be confidential.

A council spokesperson declined to comment on the accuracy of the agenda papers, or whether the papers were meant to be confidential.

Earlier this month, the Royal Croquet Club gained approval for a single-year event licence to operate its 2018 event at Pinky Flat, having missed two council deadlines to stump up financial securities for the event, but met a third and final January 5 deadline.

The Royal Croquet Club Adelaide Pty Ltd fell into voluntary administration in June last year after losing more than $1 million on a disastrous venture hosting a “Royal Adelaide Club” event at the Qingdao International Beer Festival in China, in 2016.

The agenda papers for tomorrow’s meeting also warn that the 2018 Royal Croquet Club may not go ahead, even if the council approves a five-year event licence.

“The potential risk associated with Option 2 (granting the multi-year licence) is that the Royal Croquet Club is unable to provide sufficient information and evidence to satisfy the CEO, and the multi-year licence is not awarded and executed,” the agenda paper says.

“The risk of the 2018 Royal Croquet Club not proceeding is a possibility with each option, noting that the 2018 event is due to commence bump-in on 29 January 2018.”

The document also warns the company may have made financial commitments to performers, contractors and suppliers for this year’s event.

About 20 acts are on the lineup to perform at this year’s Royal Croquet Club.

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