Written on the 14 May 2012


IN football terms, it was like running the length of the field to score a match-saving try as the hooter sounded.

The sale of the Titans’ Centre of Excellence to diehard club backers and local businessmen Phil Ward and Bob Clark of Handling Solutions, certainly provided a clearer financial future for the rugby league operations of the beleaguered club.

No financial details of the sale were released, but it is understood the deal provided for the release of all current guarantees and guarantors on the building with the provider of the loan, the Commonwealth Bank.

That includes the football arm of the Titans, which will remain a tenant at Robina. Titans managing director Michael Searle (pictured) says the sale of the building also will alleviate the financial pressure that has been placed on the club’s property arm, which was facing liquidation proceedings.

“We are very pleased to be able to achieve this outcome in what is the first and vital step to secure the long-term future of the Titans,’’ he says.

“This certainly is a step in the right direction and we will commence discussions with the new owners [of the Centre of Excellence] around a long-term lease to suit our needs moving forward.

“I am focused on ensuring the longevity and sustainability of the Titans on the Gold Coast."

Experts say achieving that goal is vital, not just for the Titans, but for Gold Coast sport as a whole.

Had the Titans folded, marketing and licensing experts tell Gold Coast Business News that the real-term cost of losing the brand could eventually have exceeded the staggering debt which threatened to permanently drag the rugby league organisation into touch.

Prior to the sale of the Centre of Excellence, the Titans were reportedly in debts totalling for more than $20 million (up to $35 million according to reports which have been rejected by the club).

The five-year-old Titans are the fourth reincarnation of a Gold Coast rugby league entity after the Giants, Seagulls and Chargers. They are by far the most successful in establishing a profile, fan base
and merchandise foothold across the region – and the broader sporting community.

Experts say a new entity would require tens of millions of dollars to duplicate that brand reach and new owners could find their business model burden for years with expectation of failure among tired and
cynical supporters and sponsors.

Dr kevin Filo, a lecturer at the Griffith University Business School, says the Gold Coast desperately needs the Titans brand to survive.

It’s impossible to speculate on what would be the eventual cost across all sports of successfully burying that unwanted reputation, Filo says.

“The fact is that if the Titans were scrapped, it would provide another example of a sporting business model on the Gold Coast, which hasn’t worked,” he says.






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