Newcastle warned about Koukash

Former Australian Rugby League chief executive John Quayle has spoken out to caution Newcastle Knights about becoming involved with Dr Marwan Koukash.

Reports this week have indicated that the Salford Red Devils owner is set to try and buy the troubled NRL franchise, which is currently under control of the NRL.

But while the NRL has stated that it would be open to talks with Koukash, Quayle feels that caution needs to be exercised.

Quayle is currently engaged by the ARL Commission with a task of helping Newcastle negotiate a way through their period of transitional ownership.

“Here it is again, someone who puts his hand up,” Quayle said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Tell him to go to the league [NRL] and give them a non-refundable cheque of $100 million. Then the league might talk to him.

“You can’t again be in a position of someone just being interested, that just doesn’t work at all. That’s the sad part about it, so many people want to be part of a sporting team.

“You have to understand the enormous cost in running a football team these days. We’re talking in excess of $20 million a year. It’s tough stuff and you need to make sure they are there long term, not short term.

“I certainly wouldn’t be [in favour] of talking to anyone until the structure is right.”

The club only recently broke off ties with Nathan Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group. Tinkler, like Koukash is a self-made multi-millionaire, with strong links to horse racing.

The Knights Members Club still retains a 20 percent stake in the Newcastle club. In the past, the organisation has ensured that safeguards such as a $10 million bank guarantee were in place when Tinkler took over in 2011.

Like Quayle, Members Club chairman Nick Dan is urging caution when it comes to getting Koukash involved.

“I think they would be very, very apprehensive after the failed experiment from the past few years,” he told AAP.

“There are much more ownership benefits in the community model for the fans and for Newcastle and it makes for a much stronger business.

“Hopefully, these reports will spur more people on to becoming members of the club.”

The NRL, on the other hand, has stated that it would be open to further discussions with the outspooken Salford owner.

“We have invested heavily in transferring control of the Knights’ ownership and now our focus is on bedding down the business,” a spokesman said.

“The NRL has indicated that, at some point in the future, we will entertain a sale to a long-term owner.

“At that time, we will need to be satisfied that any new ownership brings all the right values for the club, the community and the game.”

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