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Sharks are now 'for sale', says Zappia

08/05/2009 06:01:17 AM Comments (0)

Cronulla-Sutherland chief executive Tony Zappia has proclaimed the Sharks are now "for sale" and he will be seeking cashed-up equity partners in the club following a swift rejection of plans to relocate five home games to the Central Coast.

Zappia told the Sydney Morning Herlad he was extremely disappointed at the decision of the NRL's partnership executive, which decided not to support an $800,000 part-relocation idea at this stage.

"I am very disappointed, but it was an opportunity that we needed to look at, and not getting approval is a hurdle we need to overcome," Zappia said. Plan B for the Sharks is to seek financial backers prepared to buy a stake in the club, which is potentially asset rich - with undeveloped land beside the leagues club - but cash poor.

Last year, the Sharks lost $1.4 million, turned $6 million in the bank into a $2 million overdraft and have more than $12 million of short-term debt that has still to be refinanced.

Zappia is looking for some guaranteed income to satisfy the bankers that the football club and leagues club entities can operate as a going concern. Long term, the club is looking to develop the land with a $110 million proposal before Sutherland Council.

"We have to be proactive, it is tough, but I want to see if there is anyone out there who wants equity in the Sharks, I will be knocking on everyone's door," Zappia said.

"The Sharks board hasn't canvassed it, but it is part of my responsibility to look at whatever is out there."

Zappia said in order to generate more immediate cash flow he may look to play more games in Adelaide - where the South Australian government has been offering financial incentives - and removing the Sharks' home-ground advantage when they are due to play the Brisbane Broncos in late June, relocating the match from Toyota Stadium to Suncorp Stadium.

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