An open letter from Newcastle Knights CEO, Steve Burraston.
Firstly, let me thank you for the many emails, letters and phone calls of support that have been sent to our office over the past week or so. Your kind words and overwhelming support is greatly appreciated and will never be taken for granted
In relation to the Newcastle Knights contracting Chris Houston as an NRL player for the next two seasons, I would like to share with you the following:
- We have no further information than what is already in the public domain
- Chris is considered by the legal system to be an innocent man and we must respect that innocence and not discriminate against him in any way
- Respecting this, Chris was contracted by our Club on his football ability and his ability to contribute to the Knights and our community from this time forward
- Discussions had taken place at Board and Management level, which satisfied the Club that matters raised in the police investigation would not pose a future problem
- The Club did not and does not treat this matter lightly. However, as a consequence of our discussions with Chris and with a continued strict adherence to our policies and procedures, we believe we have made a decision in the best interest of our stakeholders, in
particular our members. Your feedback overwhelmingly agrees
- Discussions have been conducted with Chris regarding our Club values and policies and we are confident he is fully committed to complying with them
- In our society there is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Chris has been dealt with by the judicial system and a magistrate, on considering all the evidence presented, decided it did not have sufficient evidence to commit Chris to trial
The Knights are widely acknowledged as having one of the best illicit substance policies and testing procedures in Australian sport and we are recognised as a leader in education and welfare programmes for our players.
We have also introduced the ability to do out of season testing , we are the only NRL club to have an active independent whistleblower system and we are two years into a three year ‘Creating Supportive Environments’ programme that we are running in union with The Australian Drug Foundation (ADF).
We are considered by many to be the benchmark of Australian sport for testing procedures.