Alan Bond’s bold plan for Richmond, nearly a quarter of a century ago, has finally come to fruition (sort of)...
The high-profile businessman, who had been lured to Tigerland to take over as president, became the central figure in the Club’s push to play half its games each season in Brisbane.
That move subsequently was thwarted, but fast-forward to 2020, and the Tigers will be based in Queensland for the remainder of this crazy, chaotic, corona-virus riddled season, playing ‘home’ games at the Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium and Brisbane’s Gabba.
When Richmond celebrated its AFL/VFL centenary in 2008, Bond’s Queensland plan was listed as one of the Club’s 10 controversies of the century.
From the book “Yellow and Black: 100 Years Of Tiger Treasures”, here’s how it all played out at the time . . .
“In late 1986, Richmond, with the strong backing of president-elect Alan Bond, announced it was planning to play 11 away games in Brisbane from the 1987 season onwards, with 11 home games at the MCG.
Bond, at the time, a hugely-successful Australian businessman and national hero courtesy of the 1983 America’s Cup win, said the proposed move all-up would cost the Club $12 million, but it would raise the necessary funds with a public company listed on the Stock Exchange by the start of the ’87 season. He then added that Richmond members would have the first opportunity to buy shares and be given options to subscribe at a later date.
“Because of the changing environment of football it is essential in the strategic planning for Richmond’s future to provide an expanded capital base and to become very competitive,” Bond said.
“We will be getting the best of both worlds keeping our base in Melbourne and playing away games in Brisbane with a live telecast to Victoria.
“It will be long-term financial security and looking at it realistically Richmond is a strong club and you don’t want a weak club in Brisbane.
“The move will benefit all Richmond supporters. We want Richmond to be No. 1 with the financial strength to compete and have a fantastic season.
“It is a sound foundation for the club, but we will probably gain more supporters from this.”
Bond emphasised there was no business benefit involved for him in the plan to switch Richmond’s away games to Brisbane (his company at the time controlled the Fourex and Swan breweries).
“I’m interested in Richmond, the game and not selling beer,” he said.
“I can see a future for the game, club, players and supporters.
“We will turn Richmond into a killer machine.”
This decision immediately split the Club, with some in favor of the move, while others vehemently opposed it.
The great Jack Dyer and five-time premiership hero Kevin Bartlett were particularly vocal opponents of the Brisbane push:
“If Alan Bond is fair dinkum, about Richmond’s heritage, why doesn’t he put the dough into the club and ensure its future where it counts most, here,” Bartlett said.
“It won’t cost $12 million to keep Richmond in Richmond, believe me.
“If Bond has enough money to pump millions into Tiger coffers, why the heck does he want to move headquarters?
“Is it simply to use the club as a marketing tool to promote his particular brand of beer?
“And I wonder if, after hearing of this latest move, these people who applauded his appointment as president-elect at the annual general meeting earlier this year, would be doing the same now.
“Not too many.”
Eventually, after the Club’s board met a deputation of influential supporters, headed by David Mandie, the Brisbane plans were shelved.
The Tigerland ‘Civil War’ had raged for several weeks and attracted enormous publicity along the way.”