Off the Wall

The outcome of the Knights members meeting last night became inevitable in recent weeks - perhaps the only surprise is that 97 per cent of Knights members endorsed the Nathan Tinkler takeover offer.

The amount of money on the table was simply too good to refuse.

Now the takeover has been overwhelmingly endorsed Tinkler will believe he has a total mandate to remake the club. There are interesting times ahead.

The Tinkler privatisation of the Knights looked like being as messy as the privatisation of the NSW electricity assets, but once the club's legendary players, led by Andrew Johns, came on board - and the true state of the clubs finances were revealed - it became a relatively easy run.

No sector will be watching the early days of the Tinkler regime with more interest than will be the racing industry, where he is a powerful influence.

He has rapidly become a major thoroughbred breeder and owner, and a very generous sponsor.

But he has had more trainers than John Singleton has had wives - and in a fraction of the time!

He will undoubtedly bring financial stability to the cash strapped club, but it is management, coaching and player stability that will determine just how successful he is.

My reservation about privatisation of clubs remains unchanged. But the Knights takeover has to be viewed in the context of the need to keep a strong NRL team in Newcastle, and the absence of viable alternatives.

We cannot presume for one minute that this is the last takeover NRL club the game will face in the future.

The financial circumstances of the majority of clubs that have effective licensed club ownership is dire. The change of government in NSW last weekend may improve the position, but even greater political challenges loom.

The Independent Tasmanian MP, Andrew Wilkie, is single minded in his determination to implement his policy which is designed to cut poker machine turnover, and cut it massively. The Greens, who gain the balance of power in the Senate mid-year, have taken up the issue as well.

But back to the Knights. You have to wish them all the best under the new arrangement. They have been through tough times, and deserve the financial stability Nathan Tinkler's ownership will bring.

But it will be an interesting ride! Ownership by mining and other wealthy magnates usually is!

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