Greenberg: Titans are not for sale... yet
They are the club that has gone from problem child to feelgood story of the season but NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said the search for a new owner for the Gold Coast Titans won't be explored until 2017.
Greenberg was on the Gold Coast on Tuesday night to address 100 current and potential corporate sponsors and with the NRL in a far more powerful position to negotiate with possible suitors interested in investing in the club.
The addition of superstar Jarryd Hayne and last week's five-year sponsorship extension of the Titans' major partner, Aquis, demonstrates just how much faith there is in the future of the club both inside and outside the Gold Coast.
It was just 18 months ago that the NRL was required to step in and assume ownership of a club that was in a perilous financial position but despite the dramatic turnaround Greenberg said that there would be no quick sale in order to capitalise on recent positive publicity.
"Our first priority at the moment is the Knights and we're in the middle of figuring out the best ownership model and then into 2017 will be when we really get into the grunt of figuring out what the ownership model of the Titans will look like," Greenberg said after his arrival on the Gold Coast.
"We've been clear from the outset, our two clubs – being the Knights and the Titans – that we're not long-term owners of clubs but we also want to ensure that when we do pass them back to a different ownership model that they are in good shape.
"There are no discussions taking place yet. Clearly the club is in much better shape and will continue to be in good shape for us to be able to transition that in 2017.
"We need to learn from the issues of the past, about what happened in Newcastle, and making sure that the ownership structure is very solid for the long term. That primarily goes to the structure of the ownership.
"They're all the things we will confront next year."
In terms of the model that the ownership structure will look like moving forward Greenberg said that the Gold Coast community "will have access to their team" and that they will have some equity in their team.
Given the failure of the previous private ownership structure at the Knights the model that is rolled out at Newcastle could provide an indicator to which way the NRL will favour when it comes to the Titans' future, but CEO Graham Annesley welcomed community involvement in the new ownership structure.
"I think that's great news for the Gold Coast as a city and as a region, that the NRL is obviously very keen to make sure that the community is the beneficiary of any ownership change," Annesley told NRL.com.
"We've always been very comfortable with the information that's been flowing back to us from the NRL about their process and they've made it very clear that they want to deal with clubs one at a time.
"The people who I know are interested locally, they're very well informed about the process and it's entirely in the NRL's hands."
Twelve months ago then NRL CEO Dave Smith made the same presentation to potential corporate supporters on the Gold Coast with the club very much trying to re-establish their relevance and connection with the local community.
Under the guidance of Annesley, chair Rebecca Frizelle and with the team itself on the verge of finals football for the first time in six years, Greenberg said the NRL was very pleased with the progress that had been made in a relatively short space of time.
"The messages that I'm receiving are around the positivity of this region," Greenberg said.
"You can see that demonstrated in the crowds but you can also see that demonstrated by the way the players are speaking away from the field as well.
"They've had a great season in the way they've demonstrated a change in their management at the very top with people like Graham and Rebecca but also the coaches deserve great credit as well.
"We're very pleased with where we're at here on the Gold Coast."