THE battle for control of Manly has taken a new twist after the Penn family entered into secret negotiations to sell their stake in the club.The Sun-Herald can reveal a consortium including co-owner Quantum, major sponsor Kaspersky, fellow sponsor United Resource Management and an undisclosed fourth party tabled a deal about six weeks ago. The initial offer, believed to be worth about $3.5 million, was rejected. There has not been a revised offer tabled at this stage.
''There were some discussions in the past and offers had been made, but nothing has transpired since then,'' said Quantum boss Phil Sidney, who is also the spokesman for the board.
''We're looking at our options. It may be that they're looking to work amicably at board level. That's what they have asked for. The board still works quite well. There may be some infighting, but decisions get made. It's not as if there is an impasse on football matters. The only thing which really causes a problem is when people disagree and some feel they are not getting their own way.
''There's virtually three parties now and when two vote together they have the majority. People have to accept that if you haven't got the vote, you haven't got the vote.''
The Sun-Herald revealed in July that Quantum was prepared to buy out the Penns after a no-confidence motion was carried against chairman Scott Penn. That drew a mixed response at the time - Penn told The Manly Daily he would dig in, while he told the Herald - on the same day - he was prepared to walk.
The latest developments suggest the latter is more likely. Ironically, the Penns had previously attempted to buy out Quantum's shareholding.
One of many sticking points between the parties has been the failure of the Penn-aligned directors to sign off on a contract extension for Sea Eagles boss David Perry.
Former Manly co-owner Max Delmege, who had numerous run-ins with the Penns while at the helm, claimed: ''The sooner they are out the better. I certainly think it would be more harmonious going forward without them. They have been offensive towards just about everybody. They didn't want Graham Lowe as CEO, they didn't want Dave Perry, they didn't want any other shareholders. They wanted it solely to themselves.
''They don't strike me as rugby league people. They may be more suited to some other sport.''
Delmege said it was always his intention to give the club back to the supporters in some form when he privatised. ''Supporters want to go to the game and cheer their team to a victory. They don't want all this backbiting and boardroom drama. Manly will be much more harmonious, no matter who took their shares.''
The constant infighting has had little effect on the team, which won the title last year before making it to within one game of the decider this year.
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