No movement yet on tax bill but Gidley says it will be settled

THE Hunter Sports Group and their football flagships, the Knights and Jets, still owe the Australian Taxation Office $3.19 million in unpaid tax.

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley confirmed yesterday that the ATO debt remained but he was certain it would be paid in time to avert a February 20 Federal Court appearance.

According to documents filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in the Federal Court in Sydney on Wednesday, the Knights owe $1.424 million and the Jets owe $1.063 million in unpaid tax.

"My understanding of the ATO situation is that will be settled in the not too distant future - well before the due date," Gidley told the Newcastle Herald last night.

"There's obviously a sense of urgency around it, and my understanding from any conversation I've had about it is that it will be taken care of in the not too distant future."

Knights Members Club chairman Nick Dan said last night that he and his directors would meet on Monday to discuss their next move.

"With me having been in Sydney all week, and having met with [HSG chief executive] Troy Palmer last night, it gives us a chance to get together as a board so I can update them on what's been happening this week and we'll take things from there," Dan said.

Legal representatives from HSG and the members club spent much of yesterday swapping drafts of an amended version of the deed of sale the two organisations signed on August 5 last year.

Gidley and Dan issued a joint statement on Wednesday night agreeing to change HSG's audit reporting date from today to January 21, and to extend the $20 million bank guarantee from December 31 to January 31.

Those changes will be reflected in the amended document, which Gidley and Dan hope to have finalised by early next week.

Gidley said payments to players and staff, due on the 15th of every month, would still be paid on Monday, in line with standard procedures.

Though it was reported that the Knights were late paying players in October, that was blamed on a "clerical error", and Gidley said last night that players had been paid on time all year.

"There's never been a drama all year, around players or staff being paid, and I don't know where this has come from," Gidley said.

"I haven't had a player come to me all year about not being paid on time."

Gidley and his commercial operations staff met with players yesterday for a meeting scheduled last week to review community and corporate relations this year and to plan for next season.

He said that when players were given the chance, not one of them asked him about the unpaid tax bill or the club's financial position.

"I told them we've got a few little challenges at the moment but look around - we've got great players, a great coach, great staff, great facilities, great commercial staff - so there's a lot to be excited about going into 2013," he explained yesterday.

Coach Wayne Bennett said the players were not concerned about Nathan Tinkler's cashflow problems.

"Are they aware of it? Of course they are. Every time they pick up a paper or talk to someone, someone asks them a question about it, but it's not a discussion we have here," Bennett said.

"We don't have to have a discussion, because they trust us, and they know that if they've got to worry about something, we'll tell them when the time comes."

UNFAZED: Matt Gidley

UNFAZED: Matt Gidley


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