Every fan can be an owner of the Newcastle Knights, and so too can every business.
Along the path of finding the right, local owner, seven like-minded, Hunter-based businesspeople with a plan to see the Knights become the first community owned, not-for-profit club in the NRL developed Our Knights, One Chance.
They believe the Hunter is the only region in Australia with the demographics, economic capability and collective will to realise this ownership model and protect a major national sporting franchise.
The group aims to raise an initial $20million with up to 40,000 founding owners or shareholders (businesses and individuals) for the club. Each share would cost $500.
The co-op business plan (2017 to 2020) forecasts the club would maintain positive cash flow, allowing it to operate a competitive approach to acquiring and maintaining quality players, sponsorships and ongoing community support. It projects a revenue increase by 28% in the initial years of trading.
Owners/shareholders would elect a board that would oversee the entity and ensure the club maintains viable business and financial models.
Group spokesperson, Rob Tew, said a co-operative model reflected what the community wants for the club.
“A wholly community-owned model will provide benefits to the members, the club and the wider community. We believe ownership will break the existing inertia and re-establish relevance with the community,” Rob said.
“An engaged ownership will increase home-game attendances, which in turn will increase revenues and assist with making home games an exciting and enjoyable experience. The experience of sharing your game day with other owners, knowing you are making a contribution to the success of a regional icon, will engender a community aspect to the day’s entertainment.”
Many businesses have already expressed their support for Our Knights, One Chance, including Newcastle-based business, Purser Corporate Communication. Managing Director, Meg Purser, said you didn’t need to be a sports fan to understand how valuable a team approach is to regional prosperity.
“Our region is well known for its ability to turn its nose to the future when we work as a team. We did it post the 1989 earthquake and when thousands of BHP workers needed new jobs,” Meg said.
“We did it again during the mining downturn and again in resurrecting a dying a city. When this region works together, great results come. The Knights needs us to work as a team and firm up the future of the Club.”
It’s a point not lost on Tamworth Mayor, Col Murray, who says Knights fans have been the most loyal and most positive in the NRL.
“Nowhere else in Australia could a community come together to back their national team through this bold endeavour,” Col said.
“This represents the true character of a great city. The Knights are geographically the closest NRL team to Tamworth. Our city and Newcastle also have a growing community of interest, particularly through business and education.”
The community model applied is similar to that of the Green Bay Packers (NFL) and FC Barcelona. The Green Bay Packers has 360,584 stockholders, which includes a significant number of businesses. This broad-based community support and non-profit structure has kept the team in Green Bay for nearly a century.
“We must first prove to the NRL that this model is sustainable and acceptable to our community. People who want to see this initiative move to the next step must demonstrate their support of the proposal by registering at the Our Knights website. We are targeting registration of 20,000 individuals and businesses to convince the NRL to take our region seriously and allow us to move to the second phase of capital-raising and then into the third business-management phase,” Rob said.
IMAGE | Our Knights, One Chance group – Andrew Poole, Michael Neilson, Robert Tew, Marty Adnum, Nicholas Dan and Mike Rabbitt.