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Hear from Newcastle Knights fans getting behind the move to a community-owned sports club.

“Current ownership negotiations provide an opportunity to recapture (the Knight’s) culture and reconnecting with the city."
Brian Judd, CEO
"If the community has a share in the Newcastle Knights it would be a great idea to create a positive impact on everyone in Newcastle."
Maddie Elliot, 2016 Rio Paralympian
“It’s the town's, the region's, the Hunter’s club and I think realistically the community needs to own the club.”
Marc Glanville, Former Newcastle Knights Player
“…you appreciate how passionate people in this town are for the club….it’s a really important part of Newcastle.”
Brynley Hill, Managing Director, The Huxley Hill Group
"I think this community model is potentially another great crowd funding success story for our region."
Belinda Smith, Director and Community Advocate
“It will give parents the opportunity to invest in a piece of the future for their family and for their children’s children.”
James Callender, President, Hunter Young Professionals
“The Knights mean a lot more than just football to this community. It affects the economy, the business community, they mean much more, that’s for sure.”
Jason Bourke, Variety Regional Director
“There’s no doubt that when The Knights are on song and winning the town is a much happier place.”
Richard Jones, CEO Westpac Rescue Helicopter
“I think the community model will work well because it’s such a big footprint the Knights will cover. The Knights are our regional team. We’ve all got a part of it.”
Guy Ashford, Regional Manager, Bartercard
“The community based model can assist us in flattening out that roller-coaster we’ve experienced over the last 30 years. It can also demonstrate to the rest of Australia how great this place is to live.”
Matthew de Witt, Director, de Witt Consulting
“Of the community based model, I’m a supporter. I look forward to becoming a shareholder if the opportunity arises.”
John Laut, Once-A-Knight Old Boys President
"Being one of the two major sporting teams on the national stage, every Novocastrian wants to see the Knights go well. They’re an important part of who we are."
Martin Matthews, Partner, PKF Newcastle
“The Community Ownership model has proven long term success overseas, and I really think it’s the future for the Knights.”
Paul Marjoribanks, Director, Foresythes IT
Marcus Westbury, Founder Renew Newcastle
Count me in. As a long time Knights fan and as someone who has learnt first hand, through Renew Newcastle, what the Newcastle community can make happen I'm excited to see the Knights owned by the Newcastle community. I'm a big believer in community ownership and an even bigger believer in the idea that Novocastrians are at their best when they are backing themselves. The Knights are vital part of the Newcastle community. They're a national symbol of Newcastle and a great connection back to Newcastle for Novocastrians wherever they may be in the world. I've followed them through the good times and the bad. I've seen them triumph and seen them flogged. My two kids are proud Knights fans and if the opportunity to own a small piece of the club came up we'd all be even prouder owners.
Phillipa Anderson, Pro Surfer
Ever since I've lived in this city and surfed competitively here, Newcastle has always been such a supportive community whether it's being a member of the local Merewether Boardriders Club, to a community member walking by and taking the time to congratulate me. Newcastle is such a unique town in the way the community get together and give back or support individuals, teams and events. This is an amazing opportunity for Newcastle, who as a community, love sports and have blue and red in our hearts. An opportunity to become even closer together and get on board with something that is special to us. For myself as a sports women when I received support in any way, it meant so much to me and I'm so proud to be a Novocastrian. Getting on board with the idea that these businessmen have, is something special and we as Novocastrians should be proud to make history and become one.
Brian Lizotte, Owner, Lizotte's Restaurant
"At Lizotte's, we work really hard with up and coming musicians to give them a chance to play on a professional stage with people who have mastered their craft. For many years the Knights have done the same thing for young players from the Hunter and Western NSW. If Knights were to disappear from the Newcastle landscape, that opportunity would disappear along with the millions of dollars injected into the local economy. Money spent on overnight stays, dining and entertainment would be lost. Having run my business for over 20 years, I think when you have passion for something, you should fight for it. Be prepared to make an investment and figure out a way to make it work, for you and the community around you."
Helen Davies – Teacher and Mother.
By way of introduction, my name is Helen Davies and it is with great pleasure and confidence that I provide this testimonial. I am the parent of young player who has been with the Knights Junior Program from Chargers to Harold Matthews through to SG Ball. He has recently been selected in the Under 20’s squad. My Son’s experiences with the Knights have been exciting, challenging, but not without personal disappointment. Ultimately though, he has been part of a system that has supported and encouraged his progress. There is no doubt that Rugby League is a tough game, both physically and mentally. What I have been impressed with, is that player welfare is of paramount importance to the development of him as a young man and a player. There are high, but fair expectations of how he should conduct himself on the field and as a member of a community that is providing him with opportunities on and off the field. The connection between club and community is one that holds great value to my son and our family. As a Teacher, my son’s education is a priority. He has just completed his H.S.C and intends to study at University commencing 2017. He has been able to maintain his study and training/playing program because of the structures and supports provided by the Club. He has been encouraged by Coaches and Mentors to pursue his education as means of enhancing him as player. At no stage has he been exposed to a culture that suggests his only focus should be Rugby League. Through ongoing Club education programs, he appreciates he is not entitled to anything as a young player. He must work hard, develop resilience, create balance and contribute back to a Club and wider community that is giving him the rare opportunity to pursue his goals. Regardless of how far my son progresses in this game, his association with The Newcastle Knights will be one of the positive defining factors that shape the adult he becomes.
Karen Williams, Executive Director, Hollydene Estate
"On behalf of Hollydene Estate I would like confirm our full support to the proposed restructuring of the Knights Rugby League Club to Community ownership.   Hollydene is an established Upper Hunter Valley wine and tourism business having origins back to 1965 with strong links to Hunter Valley Rugby League. Hollydene is a supporter and major sponsor of the Denman Devils Group 21 club and supporter of the Knights. The Knights have historically provided the community foundation for rugby league supporter base in the Upper Hunter.    To instill this collective community following we fully support the Community ownership proposal.”
James Harvey, Licensee, Sternbeck's Real Estate
"As a Cessnock business owner and passionate footy fan I can readily see the difference that a winning Knights team delivers to town. The pervading euphoria, the underlying pulse sees everyone swept along by the wave of positivity created when our team succeeds. Intangible and invasive. No one knows why they feel better or the world seems brighter, but that’s what happens. It’s real, it’s invaluable and It’s vital. Over the past couple of seasons the heart and soul of our team has been missing. A community owned entity will return that and do so ten-fold. There is no risk. Imagine 100,000 doting parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters all supporting and shaping our baby. For those who believe in the Knights - to be given the chance to nurture the club and the wider feeder rugby league community, this is a dream come true and whichever way one looks at it, community ownership can only succeed and the rewards will be shared across the region."
Richard Owens, Shoeys Group
"Last weekend I saw a movie at the Regal Cinema 'Dark Horse'. It was the true story of a small parochial mining village community in Wales who bred and owned a racehorse named 'Dream Alliance'. This was something that entire community became engaged in. They used the best training methods available, and over eight years, they had a champion that won time and time again, including the biggest race in the country. It took lots of small community contributions in kind and money, but with it came lots of passion and pride in ownership. It reminded me of the Knights. The concept of Community Ownership is not new. If managed well, as many football teams in the AFL and NRL are, it is a very successful model. To develop the Knights into a champion team will take time. It will take perseverance and patience. It will also require trust by the members in the way the club is managed and governed. But this is a great opportunity to have our Hunter Community own and control the Knights."
John Crooks, Chairman of the Newcastle Rugby League
"For the Knights to be a success, it’s imperative that the operating model be a Community Partnership. The Knights always performed at their best in times past when they were fully engaged with the community. The commitment of the community supporter base to any sporting body is an integral part of the success of that particular sporting organisation. It must be a partnership that incorporates the whole spectrum of the possible supporter base. Not only in the greater Newcastle area but from anywhere in the world where the Knights brand can be expanded e.g. Manchester United or Liverpool Football Clubs have a supporter base that extends around the world. To ensure the maximum encapsulation of a supporter base, it must be affordable for anyone who wants to be a share holder, from big business to families."
Cain Rowston, President, The Excalibur Club and Rob Keyes, Secretary, The Excalibur Club
"As people strongly invested in the success and future of the Newcastle Knights, Cain Rowston (President - Excalibur Club) and Rob Keyes (Secretary - Excalibur Club) support the goals and future direction outlined by the Community Ownership model. We believe that the Not for Profit Community Ownership Model can give The Knights a strong, viable and positive future whilst ensuring the team stays based in the Newcastle / Hunter Valley region. The Newcastle Knights are very important to this community. In recent times the connection between the community and the club has been a strained. The dramas of failed private ownership and poor on field performance have taken their toll. It’s time for a reboot. The proposed model has the potential to add excitement and positivity to the relationship between the club and the community. Newcastle has grown without the advantage of being a base of a State or Federal government. This situation has driven a culture of community, support and collectivism to develop in our region. Organisations such as NIB, Greater Bank, Newcastle Permanent, HMRI, Newcastle University, the Rescue Helicopter and Surfest have all thrived in this region based on a Community Ownership/Support Model. As a Community Owned entity we could add The Knights to this long list of success stories hailing from our community. An NRL team owned by the community, rather than an individual or company, will mean the success of the organisation is more closely aligned to the expectations of the fans, rather making a profit for the owner. We believe a team that can focus on its performance rather than its owners needs, will have a competitive advantage. This community-based model has worked with great success in other similar communities in other sports and other parts of the world. We believe it could work here and would be a positive direction for The Knights and our community. We believe all those interested in a bright future for The Newcastle Knights should look at this proposal with an open mind and see how they can be part of this bold new beginning."
John Flood, Founder John Flood Estate Agents, Muswellbrook
"The continuing existence of The Knights is most important as a Community and Regional Identity. The Knights are / can become the gestation of our Valley and Coastal juniors with aspirations for a career in professional Rugby League. There is a need to raise the management structure to local governance, to engage the Community in the Heart of ownership, to ensure All participants are accountable."
Jay Shepherdson - Principal and Licensee JTS Realty
"I am the Principal of JTS Realty Muswellbrook. I am also President of the Denman Sandy Hollow Junior Rugby League Club and Vice President of Denman Seniors. I believe it is a fantastic proposal for the Knights to be owned by the community and to re- engage with their local supporter base and the local Hunter Valley community as a whole. I have been involved in Rugby League in the area for many years and I have found that the community involvement has dropped off considerably in the last few years thereby weakening the Knights brand in our area. This proposal will go a long way to restoring that sense of community ownership and as a businessman in the area and a proud league supporter and sponsor I fully support."
Tony Rhodes, Managing Director, Mullanes
“In an increasingly interactive world, the unity in community has never been more important and nothing unites a region as effectively as sport. Community ownership is a proven model and the Hunter is the ideal environment for it to thrive. There has never been a better time. Go the Knights!”
Steve Meyn, Managing Director, PKF
"I read with interest, the proposal to explore a model for a community owned Newcastle Knights. The importance of the Newcastle Knights to the Newcastle and Hunter Community can never be underestimated. History shows that when the Newcastle Knights are strong, the community at large is buoyant and full of confidence. With this comes success on many levels. Thus, the Newcastle Knights are more than a Rugby League Club, they are an invaluable community asset that the Newcastle Hunter region should get behind and not only support on the football field but support at a broader club level. We have seen many incidents and events in the history of Newcastle such as the 1989 earthquake, the Pasha Bulka, the closure of BHP and the list goes on. Whenever these events have occurred in our history the community has come together, rallied as one and moved forward to ensure the success of the region. So now we have that same chance to again replicate this collegiate approach with the model proposed for the Newcastle Knights becoming a community owned asset, such that together we can ensure that the Hunter Valley Community maintains a strong Newcastle Knights which will continue to provide young footballers, experienced footballers and all associated with the Club an opportunity for enduring success. Well done to those behind the proposal and we support exploring a sustainable and viable model that might see a Community owned Newcastle Knights."
Colin Law, Executive Manager, Business Banking Commonwealth Bank
"The Hunter community has always demonstrated a passion for support of important local initiatives, events or causes. The proposed community ownership model would no doubt galvanise the region to support our flagship sporting team."
Scott Norrish, Partner, Maxim Accounting
"Since their inception in 1988 to the then NSWRL competition, the Newcastle Knights have been a source of pride for the people of the Hunter Region. Regardless of whether the team is winning premierships or battling at the other end of the ladder, the community has always shown a tremendous sense of spirit to rally around the team, excited and eager to show that our town, our team and our players can and will compete with skill and passion, on the national and international stage. The way the region gets behind the Knights is a true reflection of the Novocastrian spirit. The Knights are a community team at heart, which is a natural evolution as sport is a community activity at heart. Why shouldn’t the fans and the community control the team? One of the most successful and well known American Football teams, the Green Bay Packers, have been a publicly owned, non-profit corporation since August 1923. The Packers fans are some of the most passionate in the NFL, and the team is deeply connected to the city. With the right leadership and foresight to implement and manage a community owned model, the opportunities this proposal can generate for the team and the community are extremely exciting and I would urge all Knights fans to get behind it."
Matt Anderson, Chairman NTIG
"Newcastle Tourism Industry Group represents the operators and key stakeholders of tourism in Newcastle and aligns and works closely with the Local Tourism bodies of Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley and Lake Macquarie. The Newcastle Knights have always been a major attraction for the city bringing visitors from the surrounding region to support their team and new visitors to the region supporting their adversaries. The positive impact of this activity on the visitor economy is significant and the ability for a sustainable model that allows even closer community involvement and a real sense of ownership is certain to support the stability and success of the club and the positive impact it has on our region."
Choc Anderson, President CRL
"As a true Rugby League man, born and bred in Newcastle it has given me great heart to be informed of this group of business identities who have come together after identifying the perhaps most opportune time for a community ownership model of the Knights. Over the last almost three decades we have experienced the highest of highs and now the lowest of lows and I believe that the people of our region would appreciate the opportunity to get our sporting flagship back to where it belongs both on and off the field – No sporting entity can always be at it’s peak but should always have spirit, desire and the right culture in representing it’s community. Who will ever forget the euphoria of 1997, our first Premiership (and the knockers said it was half a competition) and then of 2001 (silencing the 1997 knockers) – What a great place it was to live in over that period of years! As a true Rugby League man I was pleased to see that part of their charter was to re-engage with junior development not only at the Club level but by nurturing the sport in schools by reinstating school visits by players so that, like the kids of the 90’s, those of today and tomorrow can get up close to their favourite players and want to be part of the game, the enjoyment of playing a team sport with their mates in their communities in our region. This, to me, is what it is all about. There is also the need to have closer links both in development and support to the Rugby League groups in Newcastle, the Valley, New England, the north coast and other part of the Knights catchment which I believe the community ownership model will address. I would like to encourage the public and business community to get behind this proposal to ensure the future of the Knights and so that they can regain the past culture and spirit that our community deserves."
Greg Silcock, Branch Manager, Aon Risk Solutions
"My personal view as a lifelong Novocastrian on the importance of the Newcastle Knights to the region is that the this sporting organisation certainly creates and allows an opportunity for the overall Community, as diverse as it may be for both individuals and business , to come together on a united front to support the town and the extended region. This profiles the Community both nationally and globally in supporting an organisation representing our town in good times and not so good. If the Team is in a winning phase then this has transcended in a lot of areas to a buoyant and engaged feel around town and in these times we are all looking for such an atmosphere. In respect to the practical aspects of a Community ownership structure this has many avenues to consider. Community ownership of sporting organisations globally is gaining momentum and there are many examples of this type of structure being successful but it needs to be acknowledged that the degree of success does vary from region to region and by the level of population. But there is certainly merit in considering this option for the Knights subject to what the proposed style of operational model or financial commitment is being sought with the end game is to establish a structure that can achieve long term viability of the Club. It would be critical to ensure that supporters be represented and have their voice heard because without the fans and supporters the NRL and its Clubs have nothing. The fans and supporters of the Knights Club are the lifeblood of the club through the provision of further financial support and the also the associated Community and Social aspect they provide. I would hope that additional sponsorship would be attracted to the Club as against a Privately Owned organisation and that the flow on effect would be a reputational benefit for sponsors being associated with the Club being community owned whilst retaining if and where possible the incumbent sponsors. Matt de Witt - A sporting team and organisation such as the Knights provides significant benefits both direct and indirectly to a region like Newcastle and the greater surrounds. The Knights provide the area with a link to a national competition that is widely supported across Australia and recognised internationally drawing spectators and many general visitors to the region. The team provides a great platform of advertisement for this great place where I have grown up in, left, returned to raise a family and operate a business. Like many of you I'm proud to be a Novocastrian born and bred. Be born and bred or an adopted Novocastrian we know it’s a great place. As you all know a professional team like the Knights can provide a great platform for local footballers, the community and all can potentially benefit. In a time of significant change around the hunter, where there are opportunities and also challenges that exist, a community focused Knights owned by the community to deliver for the community is a fantastic opportunity. Whilst there will be details required over time, in the short term our in principle support for this Community based model is needed. The Knights have, as an organisation and team had its rollercoaster ride and maybe not delivered in a few areas, it’s time to change. Despite the Community based model being the first of its kind within the National Rugby League, this option with respect to the Knights has obtained some interest of the governing body, the community can benefit from this option, but it needs your support too."
Jon Chin, 2016 Business Person of the Year
"The trials and tribulations of the Newcastle Knights over the past few years have caused me, and I daresay many other fans too, to lose interest in the team. It was like a revolving door for ownership, coaches and players. Much was promised, especially with the private ownership of the club back in 2011 but, unfortunately, very little was delivered. The on-field performance by the once-proud Newcastle Knights team, now owned by the NRL, has been so abysmal that their claim to fame is ‘winning’ the wooden-spoon for the past couple of seasons. The euphoria of the mighty Knights triumphs in 1997 and 2001 is but a distant memory. With Newcastle being so steeped in rugby league history and culture, their abject failure has cast a pall over the region which shouldn’t come as a surprise, according to this quote by Nelson Mandela: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair. Sport speaks to people in a language they can understand.” And so it was on each of the occasions that the Newcastle Knights triumphed in 1997 and 2001 – contributing to community identity and raising the spirit and pride of our region. It is equally true to say that all these factors have been lost, thanks to the abysmal on-field performances of the Knights in recent years. The club needs a new beginning and for that reason I am excited, even without being privy to the finer details, to learn of the development of a plan by a consortium of some local business men that would see the Knights become the first ‘community owned’, not-for-profit club in the NRL, with the added bonus of having it returned to its fanatical supporter base. I like the fact that a community-based not-for-profit organisation like the one planned by the business and football-savvy consortium members is formed to fulfill their mission – to take control of our future and ensure the Knights stay local and connected with our community and the media, as well as help guide them back to their former glory. Another positive point I see is that the eventual ownership of the club by this community-based not-for-profit group will be vested in its stakeholder – the members, investors, donors, sponsors, staff members, consumers and the local community. Not in an individual. Having seen the failure of private ownership and the resultant illness that was caused, here is a chance for us to look at embracing the exciting community-based, not-for-profit paradigm! Go the Knights!"
Peter Francis
"The Newcastle Knights are important to the Newcastle and Greater Hunter community. The mood of the town can often be set week to week by the team’s performance. The concept of community ownership demonstrates the underlying resilience, determination and a resourcefulness of the Hunter community. I look forward to supporting a new home grown, community owned Newcastle Knights."
Gary Williams, Managing Director, United Mining Group
"As a being born at Singleton in the Hunter Valley and spent most of my sixty years living and working within the Newcastle and Hunter Valley I have seen a significant transition and change within the greater community. Having been brought up from a very young age as a player and now supporter of Rugby League in the region it has provided the one constant through out for my children and now grandchildren .The major turning point and catalyst in the community was the foundation of the Knights which at the start galvanised the whole region of all ages regardless of previous affinity with Rugby League or not , the knights created a new supporter base from outside traditional club rugby league. The Knights had come to represent unity beyond politics, religion and economic status. Unfortunately over the past couple of years and the volatility through ownership change and uncertainty had started to segment the community. The over whelming consensus has been to have the Knights back as a solid pillar and reintroduce the community as stakeholders and effectively a community institution once again where everyone can proudly see as their own.The challenge has been how to achieve this. We understand through the commitment and hard work of a few staunch community Business people a proposal has been prepared to achieve what private ownership and political intervention will not be able to do, Community ownership. It is my strong view that this will be the only way to achieve to full re engagement of the community, provide a sustainable and long term model for the Knights to go forward and completely succeed. With Community ownership on a non profit basis this will unquestionably achieve to greater supporter base but further see the Hunter Valley business community back and support .Our company and myself applaud initiative and are fully committed to support."
Billy Peden, Former Knights Player
“OUR TOWN, OUR TEAM". That was written just about anywhere you put your eyes in the dressing sheds at what is now known as McDonald Jones Homes Stadium. Along with two or three other key phrases it became something that anyone who was lucky enough to proudly wear the famous red and blue of the Newcastle Knights would come to live by. It summed up our commitment to the team, town and region and importantly the commitment from the region to us. We where and indeed are a family NOT a franchise – I think that is what sporting teams have become over the last decade or so, franchises, but that was our point of difference, a point of difference that has not been totally lost but has not been nurtured as well as it could have been during that period. Any success that we have had over the years and those successes have been many, have been at least partly attributed to the amazing support we have enjoyed from our local people, to be on the field and hear a pro Newcastle crowd start to roar and chant would lift you when the chips where down, why? Because we where accountable to ourselves our team mates the man in the street, the old lady we would see at the movies during the week, the people that will see you at work when your sporting career is over, that is a huge part of what makes this team different and all the more special! The proposed community ownership model gives the region the chance to become part of that family again and give us all some accountability for the future success of this great and proud club, I know we can do this as a region and have no hesitation lending my support to community ownership of our team in our town."
Greg Silcock, Branch Manager, Aon Risk Solutions
"My personal view as a lifelong Novocastrian on the importance of the Newcastle Knights to the region is that the this sporting organisation certainly creates and allows an opportunity for the overall Community, as diverse as it may be for both individuals and business , to come together on a united front to support the town and the extended region. This profiles the Community both nationally and globally in supporting an organisation representing our town in good times and not so good . If the Team is in a winning phase then this has transcended in a lot of areas to a buoyant and engaged feel around town and in these times we are all looking for such an atmosphere. In respect to the practical aspects of a Community ownership structure this has many avenues to consider. Community ownership of sporting organisations globally is gaining momentum and there are many examples of this type of structure being successful but it needs to be acknowledged that the degree of success does vary from region to region and by the level of population. But there is certainly merit in considering this option for the Knights subject to what the proposed style of operational model or financial commitment is being sought with the end game is to establish a structure that can achieve long term viability of the Club. It would be critical to ensure that supporters be represented and have their voice heard because without the fans and supporters the NRL and its Clubs have nothing. The fans and supporters of the Knights Club are the lifeblood of the club through the provision of further financial support and the also the associated Community and Social aspect they provide. I would hope that additional sponsorship would be attracted to the Club as against a Privately Owned organisation and that the flow on effect would be a reputational benefit for sponsors being associated with the Club being community owned whilst retaining if and where possible the incumbent sponsors."
David Boyd, Newcastle Knights player (1988-1993)
"I didn’t need to be asked twice when the opportunity arose to become an inaugural member of the Newcastle Knights, those early years we formed not only an unbreakable bond on the field but also a bond within the community, I am sure I echo many of the boys thoughts who were privileged enough to stand at the tunnel waiting to run on the great ground that there was no better feeling then to be greeted by a sea of Blue and Red waiting for us to perform, many battles may have been lost on the scoreboard in my era but our bond within the community saw them stick firm through some tough times. Tough times breed tough people and there are no tougher people then Newcastle people, OUR TEAM, YOUR TEAM needs you more than ever, I urge all to strongly consider the proposed Community based ownership model, it presents as a viable option to regain a true connection with our great club and to be part of the chance to make your team great again and a viable entity for years to come."
Mark Sargent, Former Newcastle Knights player
"The Hunter community has been central to the existence of the Newcastle Knights since the Club’s establishment. Despite the inevitable changes that occur over time, such as the comings and goings of players, coaches and staff, or successful and tough periods, the constant has been the community support on which the Club has been able to rely. Another constant has been the enduring challenge of securing a sustainable, stable future for the Club. The Club has experienced a great deal of volatility in this regard and continues to seek the most practical and achievable way forward. In times when the Club has been at its most vulnerable, it has been the member and community support that has contributed greatly to the Club’s survival. The One Chance proposal marries these two constant themes of Club history, in a manner that embraces the Club’s outstanding community support as the longer term solution to the ownership and direction of the Newcastle Knights. I support the principle of the development of a sustainable, community-based ownership model that ensures the long-term survival of the Newcastle Knights, and believe that such a model deserves detailed public consideration."
Gary Considine – Managing Director, Novocastrian Electrical
"Congratulations to the team on proposing this fantastic opportunity for the people of the Hunter Valley and beyond to have true ownership of the Newcastle Knights.The Hunter Valley for too long has struggled for the recognition which it deserves and there is no better flagship than the Knights to showcase our region on the national stage." Nobody could forget the euphoria created before and after the 97 and 01 premierships and now we have the chance to not only help build towards our next premiership but to actually be a true part of it by having ownership.Pride is a wonderful thing and we are a community who have never been backward in expressing this in regards to our region and all that bring success to it. I have been fortunate to attend the home of The Packers at Green Bay and to see the passion the people have for their team is incredible and I can only begin to imagine what it would be like for Knights fans to have the same opportunity. This community owned model gives everyone a chance to not only be a part of history but to help create it and I would urge all fans from near and far to take this opportunity to be a true Knight.
Allan McKeown - Founder & CEO Prosperity Advisers Group.
"The Hunters relationship with the Knights is a very special part of the fabric of our Community. There are some very successful models of community based team ownership across the sporting landscape. We have the necessary ingredients right here to emulate those successes and I applaud the efforts to secure the Knights future by unlocking the power of local support."
Mark Harrison – General Manager, deWitt Consulting
"As a born and breed Novocastrian I recognise both the direct and indirect benefits that a successful Newcastle Knights means to the Hunter community and economy. Having a winning culture on the field attracts sponsorship opportunities but also drives higher fans numbers through the gate. This then generates a financial stimulus and demand for many other indirect business services and suppliers throughout the region." This is very important fact as the multiple effect of this expenditure is very significant and often not fully considered or valued by the community. Genuine success implies a winning culture on the field together with operating and growing a financially strong and commercial sound operating enterprise. The football club must be managed profitably using sound commercial judgement with the view that profits are retained and contributed back into local development programmes and support from grass roots levels. Having a community model as opposed to an isolated private ownership structure should allow for profitable outcomes to be made in the best interests in the football club and its members. The proposed community model should allow for the foundations of the football club to be re-established and then built with a model full of purpose, stability and longevity. Dynamic management composing properly selected individuals with the correct skills and ability who will represent all relevant aspects of the Club must be chosen to operate as custodians of the Club and the shareholder base. Such a model would be unique to the NRL, but Newcastle is a unique football club and a unique community. Community support of this model is critical to its acceptance, take up and ultimate success. There is fresh development across the city and our economy is transitioning to a new era. The time is right for the model to be tabled and supported by all associated with the success of the Club. I support and encourage the model to be considered further and look forward to its commercial development.
Jay Shepherdson - Principal and Licensee, JTS Realty
"I am the Principal of JTS Realty Muswellbrook. I am also President of the Denman Sandy Hollow Junior Rugby League Club and Vice President of Denman Seniors. I believe it is a fantastic proposal for the Knights to be owned by the community and to re- engage with their local supporter base and the local Hunter Valley community as a whole. I have been involved in Rugby League in the area for many years and I have found that the community involvement has dropped off considerably in the last few years thereby weakening the Knights brand in our area. This proposal will go a long way to restoring that sense of community ownership and as a businessman in the area and a proud league supporter and sponsor I fully support."
Fiona Wade – Senior Town Planner, deWitt Consulting
"What a great initiative. Something that regardless of age, gender or background everyone can be involved in should they so wish. A true leveller. As a community we can contribute to and be proud of. A Team for the Region. A Team that is genuinely playing for their Community."
Jarrod Bramble - Partner, Cutcher & Neale
"It goes without saying that I support community ownership. Having ownership of the club at a personal level is far greater than just a membership, it inspires a greater level of passion and sense of belonging and a right to call them your own. More attention and consideration will be afforded the club and its direction by the owners and the supporters but more importantly will be the ‘defend at all costs’ mentality that shores up and protects against the fear of failure. That factor is only available to a community owned existence. Business and corporate support will be necessary but with the right level of incentive and return that should grow exponentially. The growth and feed to the club from our Hunter Valley rugby league heartland will ensure that local business / corporate support to those centres will be bolstered. Seeing home grown talent identified and fostered through to our NRL team garners it’s own degree of ‘local community within the Knights community’ support. One hand washes the other. I have no hesitation in offering support to a community ownership venture and look forward to playing a part in keeping the Knights where they belong."
Darren Nicholson, Director, Hunter Parking and Storage
"For 28 years we have revelled in the spirt and passion that the Newcastle Knights have brought to the Hunter. Now it is time for us to play an even bigger part. Let’s make this team ours. Let’s keep the gateway open for our young local talent, let’s re-engage the community and show our commitment to our region. A community owned team is a step towards taking responsibility for Newcastle’s future."
Claire Swan – Urban Planner, Charlestown
"Our Town, Our team, Our Knights – let’s make it a reality! The Knights community was born in 1988, and so was I. I have grown and developed with the Knights over the course of the last 29 years. I have lived and breathed its great but tumultuous journey to this point. Some might say that we have had a troubled run in order to be at this point, however I like to think that if it were not for the rollercoaster ride of ups and downs the club has battled, we would not have this outstanding opportunity today. We, as passionate supporters, have a rare opportunity to be a community owner of our great team and it truly is great! Whether you are a rugby league fan or not, our team has provided our region with a sense of identity, pride and vitality. The club is a symbol of this great region, what it has to offer as a place to live and the type of community we are. My husband and I are now raising our young son in this great region. I can’t wait to take him to his first Knights game, feel the atmosphere of the crowd and know the meaning of community when he looks look around and sees everyone cheering for our team. I will be so proud to share this experience with him knowing that we contributed, in a small way, to our team. Community ownership, like crowd sourcing or crowd funding, is an idea that will ensure the longevity of our club. It is an innovative model that has been successful for businesses, community projects and specifically sporting clubs across the world and now we have the opportunity to apply this model to our club. The proposed community ownership model gives us as individual supporters of our team the opportunity to collaborate together and strengthen one of our region’s great assets, our club. It gives us the opportunity to contribute in a small way to the fabric of our regional community and that excites me! My family are on board and we are thankful for the opportunity to own our club with our community, supporting our great team and our great region. Our Town, Our Team, Our Knights – together we can make it a reality!"
Peter Harvey, Hon Secretary Brian Carlson Club
"The Brian Carlson Club actively support an ownership model that reconnects the Knights with the community. A model that acknowledges the working class heritage of the club yet encourages new methods for success. Our members have been supporting the Knights since inception and celebrate 30 years of partnership. The Brian Carlson Club would commit to purchasing 2 shares under the community ownership proposal."
Carmel Foster, Group Manager Corporate Services, Port Stephens Council
"Whilst the importance of the Knights team to our community cannot be discounted, there are other opportunities that can be leveraged off a local Hunter Team. There is no doubt that the Hunter is a changing and developing region economically and whilst the vineyards remain a popular tourist attraction all year round other areas remain quite seasonal. To continue to bring other teams supporters into our town and potentially into other areas of the Hunter to boost tourism opportunities makes commercial sense. As the Newcastle Airport grows in capacity with routes around Australia and beyond the opportunity for the Knights to partner with other industries and regions grow. A self-sustaining financial model owned by the community with a skills based board will enable the Knights to prosper for many years to come"
Julie Ainsworth
"I am a very passionate Novocastrian and spend my life trying to make a difference to this great city. The community of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley have a wonderful history of supporting people and businesses throughout the region. Supporting our own is one of our greatest assets. The Knights have been one of my greatest passions and this latest drive by the Newcastle business consortium is fantastic. They are a wonderful team of people. No one knows Newcastle like Newcastle people who have the communities greatest interests at heart. They need your support. Having been involved with the Knights for many years, in a few different capacities, I know that there is a great band of female Knights supporters out there who are as passionate as me. We need you girls to sign up and be part of this fantastic future. We know that the Knights impact on the community of Newcastle and the Region is not to be underestimated. When the people have the trust and faith in the Knights we all feel like we own them ourselves. Well now we can !! This feeling of ownership has been lost to us for sometime, this is the chance to get that back and help to make the Knights the great champions of our region again. They expose and highlight Newcastle on a national stage. How fantastic is that? I applaud this group for driving this amazing concept. Good on you guys! Let's get behind them.....join today and be part of making the Knights Great again!"
Meg Purser, Managing Director, Purser Corporate Communication
“You don’t need to be a sports fan to understand how valuable a team approach is. Our region is well known for its ability to turn its nose to the future when we work as a team. We did it post the ‘89 earthquake. We did it to ensure that thousands of BHP workers found new jobs. We did it again during the mining downturn, and again in resurrecting a dying a city to make way for a modern place for people. When this region works together great results come. Our Knights need a great result or we risk losing the Club. I am a sports fan and I am a Knights’ member but I ask that, no matter what your level of interest in sport, please consider supporting a local team initiative that can add great value to our region.”
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Would you be in favour of a community owned model of the Knights?