THE Newcastle Knights board will meet this morning to dissect the $100million takeover bid from coal magnate Nathan Tinkler described by club chief executive Steve Burraston yesterday as the best in NRL history.
The meeting was scheduled for yesterday but was postponed to allow all board members to analyse the hefty document in more detail.
The deal described by club chairman Rob Tew as a ‘‘mirage’’ less than a fortnight ago was tagged by Burraston yesterday as unsurpassed.
‘‘If the document reflects what we’ve discussed, particularly over the last week, then it’s probably the best deal that’s ever been put to an NRL club,’’ Burraston said.
Newcastle have about 3000 voting members who will decide whether to accept Tinkler’s offer of private, non-profit ownership or remain as a membership-based community club.
That vote will take place on March 30, on a night Burraston described as the most important in Knights history.
‘‘It really will come down to a decision by the members whether they want to stay a community club through membership ownership or whether they’re happy to privatise the club and give up that right,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a significant opportunity and we need to get the full information to [our members].
‘‘We need to give them time to decipher that information, and if they need to take advice to do that, they should do that because it is the most important decision ever made in the history of our club.’’
Knights captain Kurt Gidley said Tinkler had already won over the players, who have thrown their support behind his bid.
Gidley said he was confident the Newcastle board had secured the best possible deal from Tinkler Sports Group and said accepting the deal would be best for the Knights.
‘‘It’s getting to the stage now where I think the board has done a great job and certainly has the best outcome for the Newcastle Knights ... It’s a real positive to have Nathan behind us and wanting to support us.’’ he said.
‘‘It would be great to have Nathan involved, and I know his passion for the Knights is the same as mine ... I’d be happy to see it go ahead.
‘‘He wants the same outcome as me, which is to see the Knights winning another grand final.’’
Tew said the board meeting had been postponed for 24 hours to allow the directors to properly analyse the proposal before making a recommendation on whether members should accept it.
‘‘The directors are required to view the final document in full,’’ he said.
‘‘It is important that this is done properly before we hand it over to the members to vote.’’
Tinkler Sports Group executive chairman Ken Edwards said he did not expect any late hiccups and was comfortable with the board having another 24hours to go over the details.
The Tinkler offer includes:
¦ guaranteeing $10million in annual sponsorship revenue for the next 10 years;
¦ wiping the club’s accumulated losses, estimated at about $3million;
¦ a bank guarantee committing $20million to the club if Tinkler cannot meet his commitments;
¦ spending $2.5million a year on junior development;
¦ guaranteeing members’ buy-back rights; and
¦ enshrining the club’s name, colours, location and home ground as the Newcastle Knights based at Ausgrid (formerly EnergyAustralia) Stadium.
‘‘Our lawyers and the Tinkler Group’s lawyers have been working very hard on that document and this morning our legal team forwarded a copy of the documents to myself and the board,’’ Burraston said at the NRL season launch in Sydney yesterday.
‘‘We felt that there wasn’t enough time for the directors to access that and analyse that before the board meeting [yesterday afternoon] so we’ve postponed that meeting.’’