Wests members talk about club's historic Newcastle Knights takeover bid

MAKING IT COUNT: Wests members questioned by the Herald had mixed views on how they would vote.
MAKING IT COUNT: Wests members questioned by the Herald had mixed views on how they would vote.

IS the Wests Group’s bold gamble on the Newcastle Knights a guarantee?

Not if you ask long-term Wests member Greg Peak, who will be voting “no” in the club’s historic takeover bid for the home team.

“I don’t think it will do them any good,” Mr Peak told the Newcastle Herald at Wests New Lambton on Friday.

“The Knights will lose their independence. They will always be answerable to Wests.”

When the Herald suggested that might not be such a bad thing, and that the cashed-up club might be able to turn around the Knights’ sporting fortunes, Mr Peak disagreed.

“That’s a matter of opinion,” he said.

“There are plenty of other clubs with money behind them and they haven’t gotten very far at all.”

Vera Walker said she would “absolutely” be voting in favour of the proposal.

“The Knights need a strong club behind them,” she said. “You’ve got to support the Newcastle team.”

Others questioned by the Herald said it would cost “millions and millions” to turn the side around, while one blasted the Wests for even considering it.

“It’s throwing good money after bad,” one man said.

The proposal, for Wests to own the Knights 100 per cent, in perpetuity, with a main outlay of $10 million for a sporting centre of excellence at Broadmeadow, has in-principle agreement from the board.

Wests’ constitution grants the board the power to proceed with the move without approval from membership.

However, the board will only give the takeover the green light if it receives a clear mandate from members, in a ballot to take place at the club’s six venues between July 31 and August 6.

Paul Anderson said outside Wests on Friday he sees no other way forward for the Knights.

“Wests will give them a future,” he said.

Kevin Butters paid tribute to Wests’ “shrewd business sense” that would allow them to take on the bold proposal.

In a scenario of the Knights being forced to move elsewhere, Carly Tivey said it would be an “embarrassment” if Newcastle was left without an NRL team. 

“Wests behind the Knights is the best thing for them,” she said.

Wests Group chief executive Phil Gardner urged the club's members to make their vote count at the ballot box.

“Even if the members want to vote no, then they need to get out and make their vote count,’’ Mr Gardner said.

“Our view is the board think this is a good idea and hope the members support them.

“But if they don’t, and there is overwhelming opposition, then we want to know that, absolutely.”