SPORTING DECLARATION: There's life after debt  

IT is the hottest topic of conversation in pubs and office lunchrooms around town: what will happen to our teams if the big fella goes belly-up?

The Knights, of course, have a $20 million bank guarantee in their back pocket, which could prove to be the equivalent of winning Powerball.

So they should be sweet. We should be eternally grateful to the once-maligned Rob Tew and Steve Burraston for that tactical masterstroke.

As for the Jets, well sadly there appears no such cause for comfort.

But Sporting Declaration looks on it this way - Newcastle had two sporting flagships long before Nathan Tinkler arrived on the scene, and this columnist remains confident they will be here a long time after he's gone.

In my opinion, the theory that Tinkler saved the Knights and Jets from certain extinction is complete and utter garbage. A myth.

Sure, both teams were struggling.

In particular, the Jets were in a precarious position.

Former owner Con Constantine had been unable to pay his players for weeks before Football Federation Australia stripped him of his franchise licence and handed it to Tinkler.

Tinkler was a quick-fix solution for FFA.

At the time, he seemed like a godsend, underwriting the David Beckham exhibition match, signing English ace Francis Jeffers and slashing season-ticket prices.

But had he declined the opportunity to become involved, would the Jets have folded? I doubt it.

I suspect FFA would have stepped in to continue funding the team, at least until another benefactor or community model was in place.

The FFA would not have just abandoned Newcastle. Unlike the Gold Coast, Townsville and Auckland, it was too strong a marketplace to forsake.

The premiership-winning campaign of 2007-08 proved that.

Remember, too, that FFA helped prop up other strategic centres like Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

The governing body is now bankrolling the Western Sydney franchise.

With a little bit of FFA help, the Jets would have continued, the community would have rallied behind them, and the new TV deal would have provided an injection of fresh lifeblood.

As for the Knights, well they too had well-documented financial issues, most notably a few million dollars in combined liabilities.

This did not mean they were bankrupt. They were not insolvent.

As had been the case throughout their history, they were surviving on the smell of an oily rag.

But no matter how skint the Knights have been over the years, they always put a competitive team on the field.

They always found a way to pay their bills.

Unlike the Hunter Sports Group, they were able to survive on the strength of long-term, hard-earned goodwill.

It was hardly surprising, however, that when Tinkler offered to buy the club, 97 per cent of members voted in favour.

The sales pitch was slick. High-profile identities endorsed it. And members overwhelmingly jumped at the easy option.

With the benefit of hindsight, when something looks and sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

But no matter what unfolds in coming weeks, the Novocastrian faithful have no need to panic.

Our teams do not rely on Nathan Tinkler to keep them afloat.

And anyway, I'm confident things will work out for the one-time billionaire.

This is all just a media beat-up.

Willie Mason said so.

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