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Roosters and Dragons NRL game dragged into 'inappropriate' Anzac Day furore

Music promoter Andrew McManus is furious after being made to move an Anzac Day concert away from Sydney's CBD to the Olympic Stadium.

Ben Hunt pictured left and right Roosters stand before the match arm in arm for ANZAC Day
A music promoter has been left asking what is the difference between sports entertainment and music entertainment on Anzac Day after being moved from a CBD stadium. Image: Getty

What's the difference between seeing Debbie Harry in the flesh and watching a Ben Hunt cut-out pass? Not much according to music promoter Andrew McManus after he was forced to move an Anzac Day concert away from Sydney's CBD to the Olympic Stadium following condemnation from veterans it was disrespectful.

Pandemonium 2024, featuring iconic acts Blondie, Deep Purple, Placebo and Alice Cooper, was to be staged at the nearby Domain just an hour after the traditional Anzac march through the streets of Sydney. But following protests from RSL NSW, which said it was an inappropriate event for such a sacred day, NSW Premier Chris Minns ordered the concert be moved 15km west to Homebush.

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"We all love to have fun and live music is fantastic for Sydney, but Anzac Day is not the day for a music festival," RSL NSW president Mark Bainbridge said. "Anzac Day is a day to think of the sacrifices made by the approximately 120,000 people from NSW who served overseas during WWI, as well as all who have served since. It is a day for respect and quiet contemplation. Anzac Day is not for sale."

Debbie Harry at the Marc Jacobs Prince Street Store Opening Celebration held on October 18, 2023 in New York, New York. (Photo by Nina Westervelt/WWD via Getty Images)
Pandemonium 2024, featuring iconic acts Blondie (pictured Debbie Harry from Blondie), Deep Purple, Placebo and Alice Cooper, was to be staged at the nearby Domain just an hour after the traditional Anzac march through the streets of Sydney. Image: Getty (Nina Westervelt via Getty Images)

McManus has accepted the government's decision but remains upset a decision was made so late in the piece after he gained initial approval and put in months of planning. And he wants to know why a concert is viewed differently to the traditional Anzac Day NRL match between St George Illawarra and the Sydney Roosters, to be held at nearby Allianz Stadium.

McManus asked Nine News: "You've got the football up the road – is that disrespecting the Anzacs? "Easts and St George go head-to-head (in front of) 40,000 people.

"What's the difference between sports entertainment and music entertainment on Anzac Day? You have a commemoration in the morning and a celebration in the afternoon and into the evening. We're an event on Anzac Day – we're not an Anzac Day event."

NRL says sport is part of ANZAC Day celebrations

The NRL declined to comment on the comparison but has previously stated: "There are few more important days on the Australian calendar than ANZAC Day.

"It is a day we are taught about from a very young age, and along with it come a litany of traditions including the dawn service, a street parade through the city and the popular game of 'two-up'. Alongside that, sport, and in particular rugby league, has become part of the celebration of the day and its history."

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