Tinkler gets Knights in landslide win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tinkler gets Knights in landslide win

By Steve Jancetic and Greg Danvers 31/03/2011 11:25:38 PM Comments (0)

The fight for NRL super coach Wayne Bennett is on in earnest after billionaire mining magnate Nathan Tinkler secured ownership of Newcastle with a landslide win at Thursday night's members vote.

Needing 75 per cent of the members vote to have his $100 million bid for the Knights accepted, Tinkler received a staggering 97 per cent approval, with the announcement of his victory welcomed by a chorus of cheers before chants of "Newcastle, Newcastle" broke out at Newcastle Entertainment Centre.

The privatisation plan will see Tinkler wipe out club debts in the region of $4 million and guarantees the club annual sponsorship revenue of $10 million over the next 10 years - a financial footing which will allow the Knights to become major players in the battle for the game's biggest stars.

Tinkler, who was not present at the vote, has already stated his desire to lure local juniors and NSW Origin stars Kade Snowden and Jamal Idris back to Newcastle, with Snowden having reneged on a new deal with Cronulla last month after a last minute phone call from Tinkler.

But the real jewel in the crown is seven-time premiership winner Bennett, who on Wednesday announced he would not be returning to St George Illawarra in 2012.

Tinkler Sports Group chief executive Ken Edwards declined to discuss Tinkler's recruitment plans, with the new ownership regime to take some time to bed down.

"We'll work with Rob (Knights chairman Robert Tew) and the board," Edwards said of TSG's immediate involvement in recruitment.

"The board own the club and continue to run the club until we finalise all of the documentation and that could take up to a month."

Bennett was believed to be awaiting the result of Thursday night's vote before making a call on his future, with the Knights and a return to Brisbane now his most likely destinations.

But while Bennett's future is unclear, the same cannot be said of the Knights.

"A momentous night," was how Tew described the extraordinary general meeting, which lasted less than 30 minutes before a ballot was held.

"It's a resounding victory in terms of the proportion of the vote - 97 per cent in favour - which means that from here forward we're a united club with a united purpose.

"(We have) the ability to finance the club to a level which we've never experienced in the past, and an ability to develop juniors and provide them with pathways and retain them even when perhaps from time to time the scale of cost of that retention - where previously wasn't available to us - now perhaps it is."

Asked about the landslide win, Tew said:

"I thought it would be clearly above 75 per cent, that was my take, particularly in the last seven days.

"But 97 per cent is emphatic and just shows you how united the club is."

Edwards, who had yet to speak with Tinkler about the result, described the margin of victory as "humbling".

"In this community there's nothing more precious than their rugby league team," Edwards said.

"To have this community trust us and hand it over, it was always going to be difficult, it was always going to be tough.

"But at the end of the day the level of support we got has surprised everyone ... it was quite humbling."

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