THE greatest fan club in rugby league, Blatchy’s Blues, is on the verge of being sold to NSW league bosses.
Founder Dan Blatch, a Bondi financial planner and Blues tragic, is close to striking a six-figure deal with the NSW Rugby League, sources say. The confidential negotiations were discussed among league identities in the Legends room at ANZ Stadium during the State of Origin match last week. One rugby league source said the sale price could be “less than $700,000”, while another said it would be “more than $300,000”. Dan Blatch, founder of Blatchy's Blues, looks set to benefit from selling the fan club to NSWRL.
As many as 15,000 blue-wigged Blatchy’s Blues inspired Paul Gallen’s men to dig deep last Wednesday night. They received the greatest reward when the team wore blue wigs and paraded before their section at the northern end of the Stadium to celebrate the famous victory. Jarryd Hayne took the football over the dead ball line as the siren sounded on the Blues’ 6-4 win and led a charge of players straight towards their most passionate supporters. In a sign of how appreciative the players were for their unrelenting support during the past eight years, the after-match team photos were taken in front of Blatchy’s Blues, whose chants of “New South Wales! New South Wales!” echoed around the stadium.
The group was founded in 1999 when Blatch and two dozen friends wore blue wigs on his 18th birthday at Origin II that year. The “club” uses Facebook to mobilise its fans, who buy tickets for Origin in seats specially reserved for Blatchy’s Blues. They pick up the famous wigs and T-shirts — which Blatchy’s Blues supplies to the NRL — when they arrive at the ground.
Well-placed sources said Blatch’s representatives had been in negotiations with NSWRL chief executive David Trodden since late last year. “A fan group can only go so far outside the nest,’’ one source said. “To offer fans more experiences you have to work with the game.’’
Under the deal being finalised, Blatch would become an employee of the NSWRL to try and ensure the club remains true to its original values. It is believed the NSWRL would like to use Blatchy’s Blues, which has 13,000 Facebook “likes”, as a foundation to create Blues membership fan packages. A spokesman for Mr Trodden declined to comment, while Mr Blatch could not be contacted.
Article initially published in wwww.dailytelegraph.com.au on 22 June 2014. Author is John Lehmann.