ALMOST a year after he was forced to relinquish ownership of the club, the Newcastle Knights are finally rid of Nathan Tinkler, albeit at a cost of $400,000.
As part of the deal that removed Tinkler as Knights owner last year, after a dysfunctional three-year tenure, the one-time billionaire negotiated a parting ‘‘sweetener’’.
As well as securing advertising space on the back of Newcastle’s playing strip and accompanying signage at Hunter Stadium, Tinkler was granted a game-day corporate box at Hunter Stadium, all of which was for a five-year term.
Tinkler was entitled to use the deal to promote his own companies, or he had the option of cashing in if he could find another entity interested in a proxy arrangement.
NRL officials insisted they had to approve whatever business was advertised.
This season Tinkler’s chosen company was ‘‘Rise for Alex’’, the charity set up to raise funds for former Knights forward Alex McKinnon, who is confined to a wheelchair after a horrific tackle left him with a broken neck last season.
It was effectively a donation.
But Tinkler asked Knights officials recently if they were interested in buying the sponsorship package from him for $400,000, effectively $100,000 for each of the next four seasons.
‘‘There was an option in the settlement that we could buy that asset back,’’ Knights chief executive Matt Gidley told the Herald. ‘‘That opportunity presented itself recently and the board considered it.
‘‘The board decided that was a good opportunity, so now the club retains that property and we can go out and look for a suitable partner to go on the back of our jerseys.’’
It is understood most NRL clubs can secure a minimum of $250,000 a season for the same advertising space, across the shoulders of their jerseys.
Gidley would not speculate on figures but said: ‘‘Clearly the board thought it was a good option, the price they paid for it.’’
The transaction took place about six weeks ago, about the time Tinkler was struggling to pay players at the Jets before he eventually had his A-League licence revoked by Football Federation Australia.
Gidley said he had no idea why Tinkler chose that time to cash in his advertising package.
‘‘The board weren’t interested,’’ he said. ‘‘They didn’t ask. ‘‘They were presented with a proposal and accepted it.’’
Asked if Tinkler had made use of his corporate box this season, Gidley replied: ‘‘Not that I’m aware of. It was pretty much empty for most of the year, from what I understand.’’