News Limited have sold the Melbourne Storm to a business consortium. Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
Melbourne Storm will break even with no outside assistance in "four or five years", the club's new chief executive said at today's handover by News Limited.
After months of negotiations, former New Zealand barrister Bart Campbell was confirmed as the new Chairman of the world and NRL champions, with ex-Harlequins and Saracens rugby union boss Mark Evans as CEO.
But other members of the Holding MS Australia consortium, believed to include businessmen Gerry Ryan and Matthew Tripp, remain unconfirmed
“Over a five-year period, we’d like to get this organisation to be self-funding and viable financially without seeing any deterioration of its playing performance on the field,” said Evans, who added he would “imagine” re-signing Cameron Smith would be a priority for the football department.
“That’s the aim. It’s not complicated. It’s not easy but we think it’s doable.
“There are still opportunities going forward. Hopefully, without being arrogant or shouting it from the rooftops because that’s not the style we’re looking for, we’d like to think that over a period of time, we can take it up another level.”
Asked if the consortium was looking to make a profit and on-sell the Storm, Evans said: “Well, any sports club, you’re only a custodian, aren’t you?
“It’s not like a lot of other business acquisitions where you’re looking for an exit the minute you take it over. That’s not the case.
“If you’re fortunate enough to be the custodian of a sports club for a particular length of time, that’s what it is.
“It will remain privately owned for the foreseeable future. Who knows what might happen down the line? We’re not really thinking about that.”
The Storm’s current Chairman Stephen Rue hands his role to Campbell while Evans takes over from Ron Gauci.
“The only reason we’re not naming the whole consortium is that most of them are overseas at the moment,” said Evans.
“Rather than go off half-baked... they’d like to be here to meet people. We thought it best to announce Bart as the primary shareholder and Bart as the CEO.
“The other shareholders, who are all from this part of the world, will be formally announced and introduced at a function in Melbourne in a fortnight’s time.”
Evans said News Limited were tough in negotiations but “easy to communicate with”.
Gauci said: “The club is now in the best position in its history and it’s able to stand on its own two feet.
“We know full well they’ll take it to a place where, really, I wasn’t able to take it anyway.”
Evans moves to Melbourne immediately from London, where his consultancy firm was helping promote the Rugby League World Cup. He has stepped down from the role.
“You can’t be part of the administration of a club and not be a fan,” he said.
BEST OF ROUND 10: Willie Mason called it “a little cameo” but his stint off the interchange bench in the second half on Sunday was great theatre. He clashed verbally with Ben Barba and James Graham, slipped a pass in the lead-up to a try, and was then retired to the sidelines where he signed autographs
WORST OF ROUND 10: It happened in a NSW Cup match but Matt Duffie suffering a season-ending knee injury in his comeback from a shoulder injury probably does earn the adjective “tragic”.
WEIRDEST OF ROUND 10: Melbourne’s Sisa Waqa was so confused at being penalised for inside the 10 metres that he started walking off and asked a touch judge why he had been sent to the sin bin.
WHAT I SAW: The ball sitting one metre from me on the sideline after Cameron Smith found touch from a 20-metre tap with one second left on the clock on Monday night and the Storm rushing to pack a scrum. What do I do? Pick it up? After careful consideration, I threw to Waqa but the ref had already ended the overtime period.
QUOTE OF ROUND 10: “What was picked up on the TV afterwards is completely unacceptable” – Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah on players laughing and smiling after conceding 62 points at Penrith.