Following yesterday’s news of the Save Our Sando rally being ‘sabotaged’ after it landed on the doorstep of Commonwealth Bank’s Sydney CBD headquarters, the latest chapter in the story of the Sandringham hotel’s fight for financial survival could potentially be its last as the long-winding saga looks to be coming to a tragic end.
Following the iconic live music venue going into receivership earlier this year, after the banks essentially forced the iconic live music venue out of business by raising the monthly mortgage on the venue from $14,000 to $48,000 a month, it looks like the white knight that was hoping to appear at the last minute, will fail to materialise.
The story all began back in July, when BankWest – the defunct Western Australian bank that has since been purchased by Commonwealth - showed up at the venue without warning with the news for the venue’s owner, Tony Townsend, to pay the remaining $3.6 million of the loan within a week or else both Townsend’s and The Sando’s assets would be liquidated to pay for the loan.
Then in August, The Sando partnered with advocacy group Unhappy Banking to challenge the banks with a criminal conspiracy called ‘Project Magellan’ – a program set up by BankWest after it was taken over by Commonwealth Bank to reduce their debt risk and move marginal businesses outside their lending guidelines.
Later that month, a public rally was organised as the banks denied there was any wrongdoing in their business actions concerning the iconic Sydney venue’s receivership. Nevertheless, thousands flocked to The Sando in support of the legendary pub, demonstrating a strong public outcry stocked with emotional resonance over the potential loss of another live music venue in Sydney‘s cultural scene, as another venue looked to slip away to the greedy hands of investors.
A lot of double speak went on in the wake of the rally between both sides of the battle for the venue accusing the other of bad business. Then things took a turn for the ugly when Townsend accused the bank and receivers of personally attacking his family. “My very sick sister ‘Louise’ and her secure dwellings are now under attack. As such her life is now under threat due to these arseholes’ behaviour.”
“It’s no joke this is hideous behaviour and spiteful action by Ferrier Hodgson/BankWest which was ultimately under taken to impact on me,” he continued. “This is totally unacceptable. We all need to realise Commonwealth Bank is very, very big, we are so small… Stand by us please.”
The banks however, ignored any such claims of moral malpractice and saw things somewhat differently, denying any shady practices, telling Tone Deaf that: “This customer continued to be in default throughout 2009 and 2010, including non-payment of interest on the debt and also non-payment of Land Tax to the NSW Office of State Revenue.”
“As Mr Townsend did not take the necessary steps to resolve his financial issues and following an extensive period of time working with the customer, the Bank appointed receivers in July, 2012.” Business as usual. Rather than be concerned with the very serious issue of snuffing out one of the Sydney music scene’s longest burning and brightest lights, Commonwealth was simply looking for a way to make turn around higher profits at a faster rate – no matter the cost.
Held Wednesday afternoon, the latest protest to rally support for The Sando in Sydney’s Martin Place featured a line up of Aussie rockers performing from the back of a truck – recreating the performance from the August 27 rally for the Sando; leading protestors in a singalong of The Angels classic “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again” punctuated by chants for the bankers to “get fucked, fuck off”.
The timing of the rally was clearly a last ditch effort by the venue and its supporters to reach out for a financial godsend, named the ’Eve of the Sale of the Sando’, so touted because Wednesday marked the closure of Expressions of Interest for Sydney’s Sandringham Hotel.
While TheMusic reports that Townsend made some last minute pleas to some unlikely candidates, namely Russel Crowe, The Wiggles’ Murray Cook and young business magnate David Lowy among them, but none were willing to front the investment Townsend was asking.
The embittered fight for the survival of The Sando now looks to come to a bitter end, unless Townsend and his business partners can find a partner at to invest $1 million for a 25% share of ownership, which will generate “at least” a 6% return.
“We still seek a JV partner… to get us over the line.” said Townsend, speaking to Tone Deaf at the eleventh hour. “It’s not the end of the road for the Save Our Sando cause as we have many factors to consider when the final cards are dealt.”
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