THE new owners of the Gold Coast Titans have taken their first step towards long-term sustainability by appointing former Storm and Broncos chairman Dennis Watt.
The NRL confirmed yesterday that a local consortium consisting of Darryl Kelly and his wife Joanne and Rebecca Frizelle and her husband Brett had been granted the licence with a view to creating profitability that would one day allow the club to be community owned.
The NRL turned down larger financial incentives in order to grant the licence to two people who have poured countless hours and millions of dollars into the club in recent years but Watt's input as Gold Coast's new executive chairman will be crucial in taking the Titans from good intentions to premiership contention.
Considered a leading candidate to join the ARL Commission after stepping down from his role as chairman of the Broncos in October, Watt brings has close to two decades of rugby league expertise, something that Kelly himself acknowledges he cannot match.
The shambolic way in which the sacking of coach Neil Henry was carried out and subsequent departure of star fullback Jarryd Hayne was evidence again that a Titans board stacked with business acumen needed leadership in the ways of running a successful footy club, something Watt can bring in spades.
Titans CEO Graham Annesley has spent as much time putting out fires as he has plotting the future direction of the club under difficult circumstances since his arrival four years ago and will benefit greatly from having Watt's influence at board level.
Having seen the contribution that both Kelly and Frizelle have made to the club surviving into its 10th year in 2017, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said he has no doubt that they are the right people to give the Gold Coast the team it deserves.
"We said all the way through this process that our primary aim was to ensure the Titans become a well-run, profitable and successful club for their fans and the local community,” Greenberg said.
"And we have no doubt that can best be achieved under the direction of this consortium.
"It was Rebecca and Darryl who took over the running of the club when the Titans were placed in voluntary administration three years ago.
"They have restored the club to the position where it has a strong future and there is no reason the Titans, with their strong grassroots base, shouldn't go on to become a powerhouse of our competition.”
Kelly reportedly lost more than $5 million that he had personally invested when the NRL placed the club into voluntary administration in 2013 but believes that as owners of the club they can move the Titans into a position of strength.
"I've been involved in this game throughout my life at a regional and grassroots level, and While my time with the Titans has been challenging, I genuinely believe we can make a difference now that the ownership has finally been resolved,” Kelly said.