Group Seven grand final to be held in Figtree

RUGBY LEAGUE

Collegians Sports Centre.

Collegians Sports Centre.

Rising costs left Group Seven management no option but to find a new home for this year's grand final.

After alternating between Nowra Showground and Centenary Field in recent seasons, Group Seven's 2014 premiership decider will be played at Collegians Sports Centre at Figtree.

Group Seven general manager Jim McAuliffe said the decision to move the competition's biggest game to a central Wollongong venue "was not made lightly".

"It's a financial decision. The cost of the existing model is costing a lot of money," he said.

"We decided to look at other models and explored opportunities in terms of taking the grand final to another ground, whereby all those other expenses could be part of the ground hiring fee, and Collies was one of those options.

"It's a first-class facility, we've played representative games there. It's got 1200 seats undercover if there's poor weather. It's a contained ground and it's more easily managed. Logistically it's a simpler model, but the overriding factor was the financial benefit.

"A very important part of the charter of the league is to minimise and avoid cost increases to our clubs. We believe we will be able to significantly increase the financial return compared to grand finals of recent years."

This year's competition has attracted plenty of interest due to the amount of sides in top five contention.

"Seven out of 10 teams can still make the semi-finals and there's not much between them," McAuliffe said.

"The quality of football has been great and the strength of the competition is good. We've got third grade back and having Shellharbour back in Group Seven has been a real boost.

"No-one's more aware than me that things can change overnight from season to season, but at the moment it's quite healthy. We're probably in the best spot we've been in for a number of years."

Group Seven has left the door open for Batemans Bay to return to the competition after the cash-strapped club withdrew from first grade a week before the season kicked off.

"Their efforts this year are to get themselves on a sound financial platform with a view to entering first grade again next year," McAuliffe said.

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