Good-Knight By BARRY TOOHEY June 8, 2005 THE Newcastle Knights have plunged into crisis following the shock resignation of football manager Mark Sargent and the refusal of coach Michael Hagan to guarantee he will remain in the job beyond this season. Tensions within the club because of the Knights' crippling financial position and their dramatic slide down the premiership ladder boiled over with Sargent walking out yesterday. The former Test prop has been at loggerheads with Knights chief executive Ken Conway for several months with the pair barely on speaking terms. It reached a head last weekend when Sargent and coach Hagan went public with an attack on the Knights administration for its failure to provide adequate resources to the football department. Conway and Sargent clashed heatedly on Saturday following the public outburst and the football manager and Hagan were forced to front a board meeting on Monday night where they were carpeted for their actions. But it did little to settle the tension. Conway and Sargent were involved in another slanging match in the Knights office yesterday which Sargent viewed as the final straw. "The events of the last few days have brought to a head a situation that has been an issue for a period of time," Sargent said. "My professional opinion regarding the future direction of the club is at odds with the senior management and has reached the point where my continued employment with the Knights is untenable." The Daily Telegraph understands Sargent was ready to quit a month ago because of the deterioration in his relationship with Conway but was talked out of it by Hagan. The current Queensland coach yesterday refused to say whether he would honour the final year of his contract with the Knights if player and coaching resources did not improve. "I'd like to think we won't get to that," he said. "Everyone is aware of what the club requires and I have no regrets about going public with my views and I know Sarge doesn't have any." The latest drama highlights the growing concerns about the future of the Knights in the NRL. The club is in financial turmoil without a major sponsor and is almost certain to seek assistance from the NRL to meet player payments at the end of next month. Their football staffing levels are far below that of other NRL clubs because of the cash shortage. Their injury crisis is such that they are yet to win a game this season. Hagan said he was disappointed that Sargent, who has played and worked with the club for the past 20 years, had resigned but not surprised at his decision. "Sarge has strong views as do I about what the club needs to return as a force in the competition," Hagan said. "There were some problems within the office that have been well documented and I think he believed it couldn't continue like it has been. "No one can question his passion for the job and the club and I admire him for putting the club ahead of himself in this situation." Without a win after 11 rounds, the embattled Knights play the in-form Parramatta on Saturday night.