An open letter from Newcastle Knights chairman Rob Tew to the members of the club concerning the Nathan Tinkler bid withdrawl.

Dear Member

KNIGHTS TO TAKE PATRONS TRUST TO MEMBERS
I would like to inform you that the Newcastle Knights Board today announced it would move to finalise negotiations for the establishment of a Patrons Trust – following the Tinkler Group’s decision to terminate good faith negotiations with the Club and withdraw its privatisation proposal.

While the Tinkler Group’s proposal was initially touted as a $100 million guaranteed offer to buy the Knights, it turned out to be a small fraction of that offer with no certainty for the Club beyond two years and a host of other liability questions left unanswered.

Quite simply we were not prepared to put the future of the Knights at risk on a ‘just trust us’ basis. This matter has been taken out of our hands and we are conscious many members will be disappointed but the initial promise we all hoped for in the Tinlker Group offer has turned out to be little more than a mirage.

Throughout the negotiation process over the past four weeks the Board has had one focus – securing the best outcome for the Club and its Members. And, quite simply, after key elements of the Tinkler Group’s proposal were withdrawn it ceased to be the best outcome for the Knights.

We believe continuing to operate the Club on the current basis and re-opening other options previously on the table makes the most sense.

ADVANCING NEGOTIATIONS TO ESTABLISH PATRONS TRUST
As you may be aware, the Knights Board has previously referred to a number of other options available to the Club – including the potential establishment of a Patrons Trust. The Patrons Trust model has been successfully used in other football codes to help clubs advance their growth plans.

At the Knights, the Patrons Trust would be used to access funds for capital expenditure, junior development, community programs, special projects, resource improvements and the like, that are deemed necessary to the ongoing future success and development of the Club

Importantly, the Patrons Trust would allow the Knights to maintain its current membership structure. That is, we could continue to operate as a community-based club that has the best interests of Members at its heart.

A Patrons Trust would also allow the Knights to continue its financial turnaround, which has recently gathered momentum on the back of a range of initiatives introduced by the Club.

FINANCIAL TURNAROUND GATHERS MOMENTUM
The past three years have been a period of significant turnaround in the Knights’ financial affairs and the future looks extremely healthy. Having inherited a club facing significant financial challenges, major inroads have been made to turn the Knights around.

As we enter the 2011 playing season, the Club’s financial position stands to be significantly enhanced thanks to a new rental agreement for the stadium which will significantly reduce our operating costs going forward. The imminent completion of EnergyAustralia Stadium’s new Western grandstand also stands to have an immediately positive impact on the Knights.

In addition, the Knights recently announced a new back-of-jersey sponsorship deal with WesTrac, as well as securing the services of Matthew Johns in a coaching capacity.

KEEPING MEMBERS INFORMED
Once again, I would like to repeat the Board’s overriding commitment to act in the best interests of the Club and its Members. I also commit to keeping Members fully informed of all major developments as we move to finalise negotiations regarding the establishment of a Patrons Trust.

To this end we are convening a members’ information meeting next Monday 28 February 2011 at 7pm at a venue to be advised by the media. Please register your interest by phoning the club on 02 4941 8200 or by emailing knights@newcastleknights.com.au.

Yours sincerely

Rob Tew