St George Illawarra officials remain confident of selling a 50 per cent stake in the joint venture this year after WIN Corporation withdrew from negotiations.
The Dragons are seeking an investor to take over the Illawarra Steelers equity in the club and have received interest from a number of potential buyers.
However, WIN Corporation had been offered first option due to the Wollongong-based company’s long standing relationship with the Steelers and Dragons.
WIN Corporation advised the Dragons they would continue their sponsorship and association with the club but were no longer interested in becoming a 50 per cent shareholder.
The Dragons said in a statement that they were now actively pursuing other options and alternatives with a number of other interested parties who had expressed interest during the period that discussions were being held with WIN Corporation.
“The Dragons board remains committed to ensuring they identify the right partner for the long-term, and are confident that the 50 per cent sale will be completed this year,” the statement said.
With NRL clubs having secured an annual grant guaranteed to exceed the salary cap by $3 million per year until 2022 and football department spending capped at $5.7 million, the Dragons are confident of finding a private investor.
The team is flying high, undefeated at the top of the NRL ladder after the opening five rounds and crowds have been strong at WIN Stadium and Jubilee Oval.
Despite the possibility of a new shareholder, the Dragons are preparing for the retirement of CEO Peter Doust at the end of the season and a search company will be engaged to help find his successor.
There have also been recent changes to the Dragons board, with Club great Craig Young replacing Warren Lockwood, who has retired after stepping down as chairman midway through last year.
Young, who is chairman of the St George District Rugby League, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Dragons board as a player, coach and administrator across all levels of the game – local, club, state and national.
He joins John Brannon, who replaced Bob Millward as a Steelers nominee to the board of the Dragons at the end of last year, as two new directors of the St George Illawarra Dragons board in 2018.