A NEW sponsorship arrangement for Castlemaine Football Club has underlined community opposition to poker machines.
Two weeks after the Mount Alexander Shire council won its appeal to block 65 gaming machines, the football club has signed up to reject any revenue coming from pokies.
Community group People not Pokies confirmed their sponsorship of the Magpies last night, with a five-year arrangement to provide $10,000 in funding per year.
Under the deal, the football club will receive funds raised through businesses and private donations, on the proviso it doesn’t receive income from poker machines.
People not Pokies president Jeremy Forbes said the initiative was the first of its kind for any community football club in Australia.
He said it was an alternative funding model that helped connect the community with the club.
“It’s a historic deal,” Forbes said.
“We’ve got businesses in the community that have never been involved with the football club, and people I’ve spoken to who don’t like football, that are getting behind the idea.”
Castlemaine Football Club general manager Stuart Dunn said the agreement was a “win-win” situation.
He said the deal reinforced the club’s stance against problem gambling.
“It’s a great sponsorship for a country football club and the ideals behind it are positive,” he said.
“I don’t see this as being against pokie machines but more about people supporting community groups and not relying on handouts from pokies.”
Mr Dunn praised the idea behind the funding agreement and said it could work as a model for any football or sporting club.
“It helps us with trying to get more of the community behind us,” he said.
“I think any clubs out there would be silly not to have a really good look at it.”
For People not Pokies, the sponsorship of the Castlemaine Magpies is just the beginning.
“This is the pilot program,” Mr Forbes said. “We’re excited about the idea and we’re building a model that we hope we can use to sponsor other community or sports clubs.”
A hand-over of the $10,000 sponsorship will be presented to the Magpies at their first home game in April.