War­riors fans go for the full Monty

Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - By Michael Burgess

Monty Betham is open to bid­ding for 100 per cent of the War­riors with his fan-backed con­sor­tium — even though a sig­nif­i­cantly smaller share still seems the most likely op­tion.

Betham’s bid, which has started, stopped and then re-emerged over the past seven days, took what he de­scribed as a “huge step for­ward” yes­ter­day.

Betham and his team had an ex­tended meet­ing yes­ter­day morn­ing with in­com­ing War­riors chief ex­ec­u­tive Cameron Ge­orge, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Jim Doyle and Don Stan­way, who is Eric Wat­son’s le­gal coun­sel in New Zealand.

“It was very pos­i­tive and a huge step for­ward,” Betham told the Her­ald on Sun­day. “It was a very good dis­cus­sion and a lot of ground was cov­ered. They are will­ing to work with us to see what might be pos­si­ble and I was im­pressed with how gen­uine they were about it all.”

While it has been as­sumed that Betham’s group could pur­chase 20 or 30 per cent of the War­riors — which would equate to seats on the board and a say in how the club is run but not a con­trol­ling in­ter­est — that might not be the limit.

“I think they are open to any­thing and we are too,” said Betham. “If we can get the fund­ing in place for 100 per cent own­er­ship . . . then let’s see. Or it might be 80 or 90 per cent, just de­pends how things progress. I’m thrilled to be lead­ing this and we may not get this op­por­tu­nity again.”

The next step is two fold; Betham and his team, who he de­scribes as three “suc­cess­ful busi­ness­men in their fields”, will go through the books and com­plete a due dili­gence process, but they will also have to fi­nalise their gov­er­nance and struc­ture to even be con­sid­ered by the NRL.

“We have a lot to do to al­low us to make some in­formed de­ci­sions,” said Betham, who said the next meet­ing with the War­riors se­nior man­age­ment would hap­pen soon.

“We have to work quickly and ef­fi­ciently but also thor­oughly to make sure we put to­gether the best pos­si­ble pro­posal,” added Betham who feels there is a “gen­uine chance” his am­bi­tious plans could come to fruition.

How­ever, there are many unan­swered ques­tions. What is the min­i­mum that fans would con­trib­ute? Would they be en­ti­tled to div­i­dends? Would there be an ex­pec­ta­tion of fur­ther pay­ments? Who would rep­re­sent the fans on the board, and how would the sup­port­ers have their say? Who ul­ti­mately would make the cru­cial gov­er­nance and strate­gic de­ci­sions? And would pas­sion­ate fans be sat­is­fied with the be­hind-the-scenes re­al­i­ties of own­er­ship? Time will tell, but an­swers need to come.

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