"If half the members who turned up to the extraordinary meeting on Wednesday night had actually come along to the club once or twice a week, then we wouldn't be in the situation we are in now."
Stratford Club chair Brian Jeffares said, while he was pleased by the large turnout, he couldn't ignore the irony of it. "Of course it was good to have lots of members come along to be discuss the closure of the building, but I can't help but think it is a shame this was the first time in a long time some of them had entered the club."
The meeting was called for members to discuss the cease of trade at the Juliet Street premises and to consider relocating the Stratford Club to TET Stadium.
Brian says "some good points and intelligent questions" were raised by club members at the meeting before the vote was held and there was "a positive energy" throughout the discussions.
At the end of it, the vote was in clear favour of going ahead with the relocation and therefore the closure of the Juliet St building.
Asked about the debts owed by the Stratford Club, Mr Jeffares is optimistic they will be repaid. "At this point, we have paid most of our creditors, which along with paying our staff, was the priority."
They still owe some staff holiday pay, "which we are working on now along with those remaining local creditors".
He has spoken with the three suppliers still owed money and is hopeful the club will be able to pay them off with the sale of some of the Stratford Club's assets to TET Stadium.
After that, the club still has two secured loans with TSB bank and one unsecured loan with the Taranaki Electricity Trust (TET).
He says any potential future sale of the premises on Juliet Street will help with repaying those loans.
Asked if there was a conflict of interest, given his role as chairperson of the Stratford Club and of the the TET board, Mr Jeffares says there isn't. "When the TET board make decisions on loans or grants for groups or committees I am part of, I declare a conflict of interest and leave the room, just as my fellow board members do when their other groups have applied for grants or loans."
The loan itself, he says, was taken out by a previous board of the Stratford Club. "I don't recall that I was even a member of the club at the time."
The loan was originally made to enable a merger between the Stratford RSA and the Stratford Club, with Mr Jeffares saying it was to allow for building improvements to be made to facilitate the merger. "That merger never eventuated, although I would still like to see RSA members consider joining with the TET Stadium and the Stratford Club in the future."
Brian says details of how the final sharing of facilities between TET Stadium and Stratford Club will look are still being determined. "At this point no money is going to be spent on building changes or anything. First we need to work it all out and decide what will go where."
One of the decisions yet to be made, is whether the gaming machines will be part of the move to TET Stadium says Brian. "When we surveyed our members before Christmas on what was important to them at the club, the gaming machines didn't rate highly as a priority for those who responded."