Knights in crisis ! woohoo

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First Grader
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.


Kim Jong Dan
Staff member
Tipping Member
yeah that is the most satisfying bit of news I have read in a long long time


Winging it
It would be interesting to know how many established clubs have started a season with a 0 - 11 record. All very satisfying.


Kim Jong Dan
Staff member
Tipping Member
apparantly when they hit 9-0 it wa the worst since 1926


First Grader
I think Roosters had a bad year in the 60's. they may have lost all there games. Not sure though!
with pokie taxs this is just the begining.
just hope the nrl keeps going in the right
direction (manly doing well).


Reserve Grader
while at first i thought the crisis was pretty funny, the duff spoke some wise words. Newcastle need a club, they cover a massive area. Youve got brisbane -> manly if newcastle isnt there, thats a mighty big area thats without a team.


Journey Man
Newcastle will get bought up by Wests Newcastle. It's inevitable and should have happened a long time ago.

Canteen Worker

First Grader
Whilst I hate Harragon, O'Davis and particularly McDougall, Newcastle helped to win the Super League war and have a fanatical following that is unbelievable.

I would like to see them rise from the ashes again but not before the Eagles spank their tails for 4 points this season.


First Grader
NRL to bail out Knights


June 9, 2005

NRL player managers last night strongly urged cash-strapped Newcastle to be transparent and keep worried players informed of their current financial dilemma.

The request comes as the NRL prepares itself to bail out the financially stricken club with an estimated $1.5 million rescue package.
Earlier this week, Knights coach Michael Hagan, and then football manager Mark Sargent, said that the club could perish unless it spent at least $500,000 on improving staff resources and player facilities.

Sargent has since resigned.

Leading manager John Fordham said that Newcastle must keep players informed of any financial developments that might arise.

Fordham's warning comes amid strong rumours that the club is struggling to pay its players' wages.

"Money isn't the only issue we've got here," Fordham said.

"The players presently contracted to the Knights have every right to know what the club's plans are for the future.

"They are also entitled to know what steps are being taken in areas such as rehabilitation and recruitment."

But asked whether he had heard that Newcastle were struggling to pay players, Fordham said: 'I haven't heard that to be the case and Newcastle has a history of meeting its obligations.

"If they are in a position which is that vulnerable, they should make it known to their employees, which are the players."

Player Manager's Executive president Steve Gillis said he wanted the NRL to closely monitor the situation.

Gillis said there was no evidence of the Knights being unable to pay their players but added: "I feel confident the NRL is closely monitoring the situation.

"We've had clubs go bust in the past and I'd hate to think it could ever happen again.

"The NRL clearly has an obligation to ensure that each club runs its business properly. And I would like to think they are on top of this situation."

Player manager George Mimis added: "We haven't heard anything with respect to Newcastle not paying their players but I would be very nervous if I do.

"It would be a significant concern because we have a number of clients at the club including Danny Buderus, Steve Simpson and Matt and Kurt Gidley."

Although Newcastle are yet to ask the NRL for financial assistance, the game's governing body last night described the club's money woes as a "major concern".

Newcastle are known to have taken some tentative steps toward privatisation.

The NRL will send its director of finance Ed Farish to Newcastle this weekend to check on the club's plight.

"It is a major concern for the Newcastle community and for the game of rugby league," the NRL chief executive David Gallop said.

Asked whether he feared that Newcastle could completely collapse, Gallop said: "That is an extreme possibility and not one we are anticipating."

The NRL would not discuss what sort of amount it may have to hand over to save the stricken Knights.

"We have been in close contact with Newcastle for some time," Gallop said.

"But it appears that there are still some major problems.

"It's prudent to stay on top of their financial position.

"At this stage they haven't requested any direct financial assistance from us."

Asked if he feared a request for assistance was forthcoming, Gallop said: "It's always a possibility. They have a financial obstacle.

"What the size of that is and whether they can overcome it without external help is what we have to ascertain."

Farish would look at the club's financial forecast then report back to Gallop.

Asked would he encourage privatisation - similar to Manly - Gallop said: "We wouldn't be imposing that on them but we have a open mind to it and it is something they should certainly explore.

"There are a number of models worth exploring and Manly is one of them."


Winging it
This from SMH. Last para about the Chief getting a role is interesting.

Rugby League Professionals' Association chief Tony Butterfield has organised a meeting with Newcastle chief executive Ken Conway tomorrow to seek assurances the Knights won't fold and leave players unpaid.

Butterfield has arranged for Newcastle's superstar halfback and captain, Andrew Johns, and the club's player delegates to the association, Matt Gidley and Clint Newton, to attend the meeting.

The latest development in the club's horror season comes in the wake of Mark Sargent's resignation as Knights football manager on Tuesday.

Newcastle's precarious financial position looks like worsening as the club continues to struggle in its bid to find a major sponsor, and Butterfield said it was his duty to act on behalf of the club's players.

"I'll be seeking to gain some level of confidence that the club will be able to meet its obligations," Butterfield told the Herald last night.

"We've been down this path before, with the Northern Eagles and Auckland folding and players being left unpaid, and the collective bargaining agreement we negotiated with the NRL was meant to ensure greater certainty for the players in situations like this.

There are a lot of rumblings and rumours and concerns around Newcastle at the moment, and it is just a prudent approach by us to try to establish that the club will be able to continue to operate and the players will continue to be paid.

"I've spoken to Newcastle officials informally and been given some verbal assurances, and now I'm going to meet with the club and discuss things on a more official level.

"Andrew Johns will be there in his position as team captain and Clint Newton and Matt Gidley will be there as delegates. They are obviously very keen to find out what is going on as well, on behalf of all the Newcastle players.

"I'll see what Ken says at the meeting. We may seek written assurances, but I don't know at this stage. It depends what happens at the meeting."

The Newcastle club has always relied heavily on sponsorship, gate takings and competition prizemoney to survive because it does not have the backing of a leagues club.

The lack of a major sponsor and the awful on-field fortunes of the team this year - the Knights have lost 11 out of 11 games and have no hope of making the finals - have made the club's situation worse than ever. But at this stage they have not been late with any player payments, and Conway said last night the club would continue to pay the players on time.

"Tony approached me asking for a meeting and I have responded to him that Friday is fine," Conway said. "He was right to do that and we want to allay any fears people may have about the club's future.

"We are sure we will be able to continue to pay our players and continue to operate as a club, well into the distance.

"It doesn't mean that times aren't hard, but we're working hard to overcome that."

Butterfield, a former Knights player and ex-board member of the club, said he believed it should consider all options open to it in the challenge to become financially and competitively successful, including privatisation.

"Whether it's full privatisation or part-privatisation or getting involved with Wests Leagues Club up here again, there are a number of things the club can look at," he said. "But I'm not here to tell the Knights how to run their business. They know they have to take some sort of measures and they are looking at all the options, I'm sure."

The Knights announced yesterday that the club's media and communications manager, Stephen Crowe, and chairman of the football committee, Paul Harragon, would jointly fill the football manager's role vacated by Sargent until a full-time replacement was appointed.

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