Balmain Tigers in emergency talks with NRL to save their share of the Wests Tigers joint venture
March 15, 2016 5:44pm
PHIL ROTHFIELDThe Daily Telegraph
BALMAIN are in emergency talks with the NRL to save their share of the Wests Tigers joint venture and 108 years of proud rugby league history.
The foundation club has just two weeks to find the $5.4 million they borrowed from the NRL in 2014 or risk handing over the full NRL license to Western Suburbs.
In a last ditch bid to save their logo and identity, the Tigers have called in local legend and former Olympic champion Dawn Fraser to try to persuade billionaire developer Harry Triguboff to buy their half-share in the Wests Tigers and pay the money back to the NRL.
The Western Suburbs side of the merger was the de facto guarantor when Balmain borrowed the money from the NRL two years ago.
Under the lending agreement, the thriving Wests Ashfield club would take full control of the joint venture if the Tigers can’t raise the money by March 31 or sell their share within six months.
“We’re very understanding and sympathetic to their problems,” said Wests Ashfield CEO Simon Cook, “We were once kicked out of the competition ourselves so we know what it’s like.
“Whatever happens, the Wests Tigers brand won’t change. We’re having constructive conversations with Balmain and the NRL right now to try to find a solution.”
There is one suggestion from the talks that Balmain will repay a small part of the loan to the NRL to maintain a minority share of the NRL club.
Under this arrangement the three independent directors, including chairperson Marino Go, would be replaced by Western Suburbs board members.
Other options are:
# Balmain come up with the money (highly unlikely) and get their own directors back on the joint venture board.
# A new shareholder (possibly Triguboff) comes in and will decide with Wests on the new board.
# Wests take control of the joint venture and determine the composition of the board.
Whatever happens, the days appear numbered for Go and all three independent directors who were appointed as part of former NRL CEO Dave Smith’s rescue plan.
Both Balmain and Wests are determined solve the problems peacefully to ensure the players are not affected after kicking off the season so positively with two outstanding victories over the Warriors and Sea Eagles.
Unless Triguboff steps in, there is little or no hope of Balmain coming up with the money. The club is already in $11 million debt from their closed Leagues Club on Victoria Road at Rozelle.
Sounds like the death of the NS Bears