The public debate surrounding funding for Leichhardt Oval looks to be drawing to a resolution, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Australian Rugby League Commissioner Peter V’Landys reportedly coming to an agreement for the much-loved sporting institution.

The scope of the redevelopment includes the creation of a new grandstand at the venue’s north end, subsequently overhauling the corporate and hospitality facilities. New dressing sheds, renovations to the heritage-listed Latchem Robinson stand, new toilet facilities and additional bar and food outlets will also be created. An architect has not yet been commissioned to oversee the stadium’s transformation.

While Wests Tigers are an anchor tenant of the Lilyfield facility, it is also utilised by local sporting clubs, both junior and senior and doubles as a public park. The Oval came under much scrutiny after a railing collapsed in late 2022 during a National Premier League soccer match. That, plus a plea for funding from Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne and Wests Tigers CEO Shane Richardson amplified commentary around the Oval, where the $300 million in funding for Penrith Stadium came under fire.

Approximately $40 million will be injected into ‘Leichhardt’, with the Albanese-led government providing half of the sum. Inner West Council and the NSW Government will each provide $10 million, after Premier Chris Minns initially indicated he would not do so.

A statement released by Wests Tigers over the weekend indicates their position.

“There is a lot of media speculation around the potential and much-needed funding for Leichhardt Oval. To clarify, Wests Tigers has not received any confirmation from the Federal or State Government, or local Council, that funding for Leichhardt Oval upgrades has been approved,” the statement reads.

“Furthermore, Wests Tigers has had no contact from the NRL about future funding for Leichhardt Oval.

“Our CEO, Shane Richardson, did receive a phone call from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese late last week, indicating that $20 million had been earmarked for a Leichhardt Oval upgrade.”

The lowly NRL franchise have been regarded as nomads for some time, with an unsolicited proposal for a stadium in Liverpool anchored by a major multi-residential precinct put forward to the state government by former Chair, Lee Hagipantelis. 

A dissolution of the club’s former Board, Chair and CEO has caused a rethink regarding the club’s stadia policy, as has the focus the club has placed on south-west Sydney, and subsequently Campbelltown Sports Stadium. It is not yet known whether the club plans to call for funding to refurbish the Leumeah sporting venue.

Even with the allocation of funding for Leichhardt Oval, Wests Tigers CEO Shane Richardson remains tightlipped on where the joint venture will play its games beyond 2024. A board meeting next month will determine its strategy, irrespective of the promise of government funding.

Image: A previous proposal put forward by Inner West Council for the redevelopment of Leichhardt Oval, designed by COX.