If the team photo we saw online is anything to go by, whoever is successful at buying a controlling interest in the NRL’s New Zealand Warriors will have to invest in some boots for the players, as the photo shows only one or two of the players shod.
A lack of shoes could explain the Warriors’ inability to finish better than 13th out of 16 sides in the 2017 NRL Premiership competition, but we must say that in the photo, every member of the team was wearing nice socks.
The real story, however, is that the Auckland Rugby League’s attempt to buy a 55 percent share of the team has broken down.
Current Warrior owner, businessman Eric Watson, did not seem to think the price offered by the ARL was adequate. It had been thought that the two sides were in agreement, but according to a recent statement by ARL chairman Cameron McGregor, the deal is off.
“I can confirm the contract is at an end. Quite simply we couldn’t agree on terms with the Warriors,” McGregor told Radio Sport.”Both parties signed a confidentiality agreement, so we can’t say more than that at the moment.”
The intent behind the offer from the ARL was to rejuvenate rugby league in Auckland. The ARL used to be the owners of the Warriors up until they sold the club in 1999, although we do not know if it was simply a case of needing to rejuvenate their bank account.
Attendance was not an issue. The Warriors drew more than 3.9 spectators to their home ground over the course of 273 games over the years. Melbourne, on the other hand, trails by approximately 800,000 fannies in the seats and the Warriors trail the North Queensland Cowboys only by an average per game attendance of about 2,000.
The Warriors do not lack for buyer interest. Auckland businessman Paul Davys had expressed interest and former Warriors captain Monty Betham attempted a crowdfunded bid.
The last remaining issue is which buyer can offer sufficient financial incentive to Watson to pry Watson’s fingers off the reins.