NRL TAKES CONTROL AS TITANS CALL ADMINISTRATORS
Written on the 24 February 2015 by Nick Nichols
THE NRL has dramatically stepped into the unfolding Gold Coast Titans drugs controversy, taking control of the club after it was placed into voluntary administration by the directors.
Titans CEO Graham Annesley (pictured) has distanced the move from the crisis faced by the club in recent days following drug supply charges brought by Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission against six NRL players.
"The two (issues) are completely unrelated," says Annesley who stepped into the top job late last year following a club shake-up that led to the departure of founding director Michael Searle and founding club coach John Cartwright.
"Every business needs financial stability and this club now has it," says Annesley.
Under the terms of the voluntary administration, the NRL has stepped in as sole shareholder of the Titans which will continue to be managed on its behalf by the existing board, including Annesley at the helm.
NRL CEO Dave Smith, who flew to the Gold Coast today to make the announcement and to meet with the board and players, says financial details of the takeover will not be disclosed due to commercial sensitivities.
"We need to make sure the club is well positioned for the future," says Smith, who addressed a media scrum outside the former city council headquarters at Bundall this afternoon.
Smith says he is "comfortable" with the existing leadership on the board which he says will deal with the issues currently faced by the club.
"We'll be in a very different position in a short period of time," says Smith, although he could not indicate how long the NRL will retain ownership of the Titans.
"It will take as long as it takes. The NRL doesn't want to own teams. We have stepped in on a number of occasions sometimes to take an ownership stake and other times in different ways.
"Receivership is a significant issue. The board took a responsible action. What we will be able to now with the support of the NRL is guarantee the future for the club, guarantee the future of our fans and solve these problems."
Smith dismissed suggestions that saving the Titans is a "lost cause" in the wake of a series of financial issues stemming from the Searle era.
"It's never a lost cause," says Smith, adding that the Gold Coast is considered "one of the heartlands" of the NRL.
He cites the support recently given by the NRL to the Newcastle Knights which he says is making "good headway".
"If anything we are all about growth. What we are trying to do is contemporise the (Titans) club for the future so it's her for the next 30 years."
Smith says the operational specifics of the club are down to the board and management, including finding a new home for the team.
"None of those things are insurmountable and the hook today is the NRL is right behind the Titans," he says.
The city council today announced the Titans will train at Pizzey Park for the next two months while they search for a new home ground.
Meanwhile, Smith says the drug allegations against the NRL players should be considered in context.
"This is a society wide problem - this not about sport or sporting players. It doesn't negate the seriousness of the charges but it is a handful of players of the thousands that put on the NRL jersey."
Author: Nick Nichols