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Crowe offers help in Souths union stoush

Actor and Rabbitohs fan Russell Crowe has offered to meet trade union members face-to-face to try to head off possible green bans against the redevelopment of Redfern Oval. AAP - SMH November 24, 2005 - 5:54PM

Crowe and business partner Peter Holmes a Court have tabled a $13.5 million takeover plan for the historic South Sydney rugby league club, which has been in financial strife since winning a legal battle to rejoin the NRL six years ago.

Crowe, in Melbourne preparing to host the AFI film awards this weekend, said he had his doubts the plan would come to fruition.

He was disturbed to hear that unions planned to blockade the site to prevent it being turned into a training facility with a grant from Sydney City Council.

"Before that gets too far out of control, I really wouldn't mind having a discussion with those fellas as well as to what actually benefits the area and what benefits your members," Crowe said.

His buyout plan includes a proposal to unite the three arms of South Sydney - the football club, Souths Leagues Club and Souths Juniors Leagues Club.

Club members would retain 25 per cent ownership and control over things like club colours and logo.

"I am still far from convinced that is actually possible, no matter how much we desire it, but we will just take that one step at a time," Crowe told reporters.

"Our principal reasoning is about making South Sydney Rugby League Club an inspiration to the people that live in the district.

"That should be I think anybody's motivation when they are dealing with a rugby league team from such a poor area as Souths.

"If [we get] any kind of agreement or movement from the various parties involved, at that stage then we will start talking about what it actually means."

Club stalwart George Piggins is leading the campaign against the council redevelopment, favouring an upgrade of the field and grandstand.

"I have a great deal of respect for George and I have been on George's side in many a battle," Crowe said.

"So I think the only question I might have would be, after years of neglecting Redfern Oval, I can't really understand why he would stand in the way of a $19 million refurbishment paid for by the city council.

"Because his plan to have a professional football stadium there ... the type of stadium he is talking about is not big enough to satisfy NRL criteria so I don't know why we are going round in circles with it."

Crowe said he believed Rabbitohs supporters knew where he was coming from.

"I think they understand where my loyalty and my passion lies. I am not about moving Souths outside of the geographic region of South Sydney, I am not about changing the colours and I am not about changing the logo.

"What I would be about is changing the way the football club actually does business and how it relates to its leagues club and how it relates to its juniors club.

"Because there isn't any reason why Souths can't be financially independent and a strong football club if those three elements work together."

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