Come this morning, the Newcastle Knights will commence their first full week under a new regime. Just like Manchester United and Liverpool in the English Premier League, the New York Yankees and Red Sox of Boston in US Major League Baseball as well as the Rajasthan Royals and Deccan Chargers of the Indian Premier League, the Knights are now a privately owned club. The coup was delivered in overwhelming fashion by an army of Newcastle Knights’ fans who last week voted to sell their club to Nathan Tinkler or more correctly the Tinkler Sports Group (TSG). Such a structure is not particularly innovative in Australia but, as the examples illustrate much more the norm overseas. Results have been mixed however even among the European sporting elite let alone here in Australia. Basketball and A League football have religiously pursued a private ownership model and the NQ Fury are no more as their owner’s largesse disappeared with the Brisbane Bullets similarly extinct following Eddy Groves’ much publicized cash flow problems. Why even Tinkler himself took over from cash strapped Con Constantine as owner of the Jets. Tinkler seems to be different. Not only does he seem to have deeper pockets than many (his wealth is propelled by the rewards of the mining boom) but he is far from the helicoptered-in, ego driven sugar daddy that others seem to be. He is Newcastle through and through mirroring the passionate white, blue and red bedecked mums and dads that bellowed “Newcastle! when he secured the club. Although frequently shrouded in the pr bluff and bluster of modern sport business it is his parochialism that has shone through. Nevertheless, he is an astute businessman with many interests including the highly competitive Patinack Farms, his thoroughbred racing arm. I guess the acid test will come with his reaction to winning and losing seasons? Will a successful team on the field see TSG leverage their investment and raise membership and merchandise prices or alter the home ground and disenfranchising real fans? Will a losing side see recrimination and back stabbing? Time will tell but for now Tinkler can bask in the adulation as a very real home town hero with unbounded potential.
This post first appeared as Mondays Expert in the Northern Star, December 6th