Sport

NRL backs Newcastle Knights

Mining magnate Nathan Tinkler (left) and former Knights player Paul Harragon.
Mining magnate Nathan Tinkler (left) and former Knights player Paul Harragon. Cameron Spencer - Getty Images

THE Storm clouds continue to gather over Newcastle Knights and owner Nathan Tinkler after the Tax office moved to have the club wound up yesterday.

Federal Court documents filed in Sydney on Wednesday showed the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation had applied to have the Newcastle Knights, Newcastle Jets soccer club and the parent company, Hunter Sports Group, wound up over unpaid debts totalling almost $2.7 million.

The tax office is claiming Hunter Sports Group owes $184,257, the Newcastle Knights owe $1.424 million and the Jets $1.063 million.

A spokesman for the under-seige mining magnate said the Tax Office move had taken the Group by surprise, but added the debt would be paid.

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman John Grant said he was confident the club's short-term future was secure given Tinkler had to lodge a $20 million bank guarantee when he bought the Knights last year.

"I think the Deputy Tax Commissioner would go for everything he possibly could ... we understand that," Grant said.

"But from our point of view, the agreement that was struck with the Knights has a bank guarantee to support it.

"We're standing behind the players ... our obligation is directly to the players - we demonstrated that during the Titans situation.

"The (Newcastle) club has got great membership, a great team, a dedicated local area for footy ... it will emerge out of whatever happens."

The NRL demonstrated that concern for the players later in the day when it informed Hunter Sports Group the league's next club grant payment due later this month (worth $583,333), must go toward player superannuation payments before being used for anything else.

Interim CEO Shane Mattiske said it was important that we, "ensure all commitments are met to players and staff, and we are simply ensuring through the payment of the grant that these are a priority."

News of the Knights' problems overshadowed yesterday's ongoing salary cap discussions.

But Grant said he still held hope his Christmas stocking would include an agreement covering player payments for the next five years.

Players and NRL representatives have been locked in talks to try to agree on a new salary cap to start next season, with speculation the present $5 million limit would be increased to $5.8 million, and increased by a much lesser amount for each of the following four years.

"The view of our group and the players' group is we're headed in the right direction," Grant said.

"It (an agreement) would be a great Christmas present. To get it off our agenda before Christmas would be good for everyone."

Topics:  debt, nathan tinkler, newcastle knights, nrl, rugby league



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