A plush business club for Sydney’s elite has collapsed owing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Administrators say the days of old-school, smoke-filled clubs might be finally over.
An exclusive private “members only” business club which aimed to foster closer relations between Australia and America has collapsed into administration owing $500,000 to creditors. It seems the “new-age man” killed it off.
Murray Godfrey and David Iannuzzi of RMG Partners have been appointed as administrators of The American Club, which was founded in 1947. The club was launched by the then American ambassador Robert Butler, who told members at the launch of the club it would promote a “clearer understanding” between the citizens of Australia and the United States.
“In my estimation this organisation will prove to be one of the outstanding contributions to closer relations between Australia and America,” Butler said.
At its peak The American Club had 1000 members who paid $750 a year to make use of the club’s luxurious headquarters on Sydney’s Macquarie Street with sweeping views over Sydney Harbour. The club’s website describes it as “a place where people of good taste from around the world could meet for business and pleasure, in a relaxed but exclusive environment, and enjoy good food and drink”.
But over time the club’s membership declined and on December 21 last year it was forced to abandon its Macquarie Street headquarters.
Iannuzzi told Crikey The American Club owes around $500,000 to creditors, including $200,000 to the Commonwealth Bank and around $250,000 to other creditors including the club’s landlord, trade creditors such as printers and the Australian Taxation Office. He blames the drop in membership numbers and high rent at Macquarie Street for the collapse.
“The membership has reduced from over 1000 to around 300 members and the sad story is that clubs these days just don’t survive because of other avenues and other means of connecting and communicating,” he said.
The club is still in operation and trading. Iannuzzi expects the club to be handed back to its members after the second meeting of creditors next Tuesday on when it will amalgamate with another club.
“All going to plan it is envisaged that the proposal put forward by the president of the club will be accepted and the club will continue to survive and the administrators will step aside and hand back the club to the members,” he said. ”The members will seek interest from other clubs in Sydney to form a new breed of The American Club to a smaller scale.”
Iannuzzi says there are a number of clubs that have shown some interest in amalgamating with The American Club and Crikey understands the Tattersalls Club is one potential candidate.
“The members will find a nice place somewhere else to go and smoke their cigars and do whatever they need to do in the business world,” Iannuzzi said.
He describes The American Club as “very much an old-school club” filled with memorabilia of George Bush and Barack Obama, “it was a place to go have a drink, talk some politics and sports”.
“That sort of generation is slowly disappearing and with the new-age man coming through it is not the sort of place that will survive in its current format, so the club is looking to downsize and move on from the lavish premises on Macquarie Street as the rent is quite high and now it is just incurring losses,” Iannuzzi said.