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HSG to meet Knights Members Club directors

Monday's so-called crisis meeting between the Knights Members Club (KMC) directors and Hunter Sports Group (HSG) isn't expected to provide any update on the future of the NRL club.
HSG to meet Knights Members Club directors
by NRL

By Rob Forsaith

SYDNEY, Dec 17 AAP - Monday's so-called crisis meeting between the Knights Members Club (KMC) directors and Hunter Sports Group (HSG) isn't expected to provide any update on the future of the NRL club.

Embattled Knights owner Nathan Tinkler's right-hand man will be present at Monday night's meeting, where he will declare that HSG won't be handing back Newcastle's NRL licence.

"We're not going anywhere. We haven't done all this work and made this investment in Newcastle and brought a lot of good people to this town to walk away," HSG chief executive Troy Palmer told Fairfax Media.

Palmer expressed confidence that a tax bill of almost $2.7 million would be paid within seven to 10 days, all of HSG's creditors would be paid, and that an audit report into the Knights' 2012 financial operations would reveal HSG had met all requirements.

Despite rumblings otherwise, KMC chairman Nicholas Dan suggested he would be reluctant to demand Tinkler hand back the NRL licence on Monday night.

"It's a privately owned club and it's in their hands what happens from here," Dan said.

Even if the KMC were to make a stand against Tinkler, it's unlikely to happen before an independent audit into HSG's finances, which will examine whether Tinkler has met all obligations in his takeover.

One term of Tinkler's 10-year, $100 million privatisation deal, HSG's guarantee of an independent audit for KMC on December 15 each year, has failed.

But Brent Perkins, partner of Knights auditors Crosbie Warren Sinclair, noted in a statement on Monday that the delay was not due to Tinkler's precarious financial situation.

"As the financial reporting year is to 31 December, this (audit) obviously could not be completed and issued for the full year by that date (December 15)," Perkins said.

"We understand that the recently proposed amendments will allow the audit to be completed and our report to be issued by 21 January each year."

Even if HSG makes good on its debt-clearing promise, Dan said the damage could already be done in terms of the club's reputation.

"Yes, we're very happy with the way memberships have increased and the money spent on facilities but we've got look more broadly at the brand," Dan told Sky Sports Radio on Monday.

"I do firmly believe creditors need to be paid in a timely manner."

Palmer suggested there were issues HSG "should apologise for" but was steadfast the club was in safe hands.

"I talk to Nathan every day. I see him on a weekly basis and talk with him very closely," Palmer said.

"There is no disaster and no chance of Nathan going under."

One former high-profile Newcastle player, who did not wish to be named, told AAP that Knights chief executive Matt Gidley privately held no concerns about HSG or the future of the club.

"Matt assures me they're all sitting pretty good and they'll have them paid within seven to 10 days," he said.

Football Federation Australia chief David Gallop was confident HSG's ownership of the Jets A-League franchise was safe and that the saga would end soon.

"We've had a clear indication that both the Knights and the Jets are very important to the Hunter Sports Group," Gallop said on Monday.

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