But plans for the Celtic Club to re-enter, buying its own space, disintegrated due to a disagreement over members’ entry to the building.
Since then, the club has spent millions paying debts and taxes on the sale of Queen Street and the rental of an office on William Street and the Metropolitan Hotel in North Melbourne.
Professor McGorry said the club was not allowed to operate poker machines at the Metropolitan pub, which had also been losing money due to under-patronage. The Celtic Club has recently held events in other pubs in the city.
He said the problems had “discouraged” supporters, with a membership dropping to 540. Members had been “very frustrated” and “felt homeless.”
The Limerick Arms, the sale of which was handled by agent Colliers in conjunction with Cropley Commercial, is centrally located and close to the young Irish in South Melbourne.
One option the Celtic Club is now considering is owning a pub for income while operating poker machines in a separate location and owning a third location for cultural and formal activities.
Some members are opposed to slots. Others believe that the club would not be viable without them.
Professor McGorry said the club needed younger members and more women: currently about 75 percent of the members are over 50 and about 75 percent are men.
He said the club was a “precious institution” that he hoped would reinvent itself with contributions from members.
“There is a small group of members who are permanently angry,” he said. “No matter what we do, we will not be able to satisfy them.
“But we absolutely want to address the genuine concerns of the bulk of the membership. And chart a future, and they can choose if they want that future. “
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