Richmond is mourning the passing of Garry Krauss, one of the most important off-field figures in the Club’s history over the course of the past four decades.
Krauss, 77, died last night, as he settled in to watch the television coverage of his beloved Tigers playing Brisbane at Metricon Stadium.
It was due to the extreme generosity of prominent businessman Krauss that Richmond was saved from extinction in the mid-1980s.
A coterie member at the time, he provided a severely financially strapped Club with a life-saving $400,000 loan.
He would go on to serve the Tigers with distinction as a board member, deputy vice-president, vice-patron, No. 1 ticket-holder and player sponsor.
In 1996, Krauss, fittingly, was awarded life membership of the Club.
On a sad note, @Richmond_FC Vice-Patron, benefactor and former Director Garry Krauss passed away this evening. Always the eccentric, irreverent bon vivant, Garry fell in love with the club, and 30 yrs ago he arguably helped save it.— Brendon Gale (@brendongale25) August 4, 2020
To further appreciate the crucial role that Krauss played in keeping Richmond afloat during the 1980s, here is a feature article written for The Age newspaper by leading football journalist Mike Sheahan in November 1989 under the heading: “Tigers’ $400,000 savior” . . .
“When Bill Durham, president at Richmond during the dark days of the summer of 1985-86, acquainted himself with the full extent of the club’s financial problems, he saw only two possible sources of relief: strong drink and a philanthropist.
He found both. Fortified by more Scotch than he was used to, he went to the club’s men of money and influence, advised them of the desperate situation, and pleaded for assistance.
“I begged a couple of them to help us, but the high fliers did the disappearing trick,” Durham recalled this week.
Finally, he came up with the name of Richmond Coterie member Garry Krauss, downed another Scotch, and told his wife, Dawn: “I’m going to put it on a bloke for a million dollars.
“I remember it clearly. I went to his house, a big, old Victorian house in Prahran, and said ‘Garry, Richmond needs a savior, and I believe it’s you’.
“Garry took me off to his den and started to play with his computer. After a while, he said ‘I might be able to let you have $400,000’.”
The club’s debt at the time was put publicly at $900,000, but the reality was that it was nearly twice that figure. Durham got the ANZ to extend the club’s overdraft by an amount that probably would embarrass the obliging bank manager, and cashed the Krauss cheque for $400,000 before the ink had dried – just when the VFL Tigers looked like joining the Tasmanian tiger and the dodo in the history books.
Karauss’s $400,000 was a loan to bear interest at about five per cent under commercial rates, to be reviewed after two years. In return, he was to get benefits in appropriate areas, such as hospitality plus a seat on the board of directors. He is up for re-election at the annual meeting on 12 December, with retiring president Neville Crowe and retiring board members Eric Leech and Claude Ullin.
An election isn’t regarded as likely (nominations close on Tuesday), but there certainly won’t be any encouragement from the club for anyone to oppose Krauss. Four years on, he has been paid $100,000 of the principal, has taken only a fraction of the due interest, doesn’t expect any more interest and believes he will get his remaining $300,000 in about three years.
Interest at 20 per cent would have earned him $200,000 to date and a further $180,000 in the next three years. He isn’t sure how much interest he has received, but it sounded like it would be measured in hundreds of dollars rather than thousands, and there hasn’t been any interest in the past two years.
Durham said: “I’ve got the greatest respect for the man for the support and loyalty he has shown Richmond.”
Krauss, 46, the man who makes his money out of money, said this week: “The money is a loan, but I’m prepared to wait until the club is ready to pay it back. It was not an investment. I have a private investment arrangement.”
His payback comes in the form of entitlements, which include places at the president’s lunch on match days with friends from the Victorian State Opera, of which he is a director, and the youth program, Operation Rally, of which he is a patron.
“I get a lot of fun out of the football club. A lot of my friends from the opera are besotted by football.
“Bill (Durham) was in a lot of trouble at the time and I was pleased to be able to help. Our cash flow was shot and there were payments that just had to be made. I had to write out the cheque pronto. It was a very bad time for the club,” Krauss said.
"It’s the changing face of football. In the old days, football’s benefactors provided jobs for players and slipped the occasional five and 10 pound note into a player’s shoe after a good game.”
The Club will wear black armbands this Saturday evening as a mark of respect to Garry and his family.