Matt Harris waits for word on funding

UNCERTAIN: Matt Harris.

NEWCASTLE Rugby League chief executive Matt Harris is hopeful of some clarity soon about the competition’s ongoing funding from the National Rugby League.

Nathan Tinkler’s exit from the Knights and the club’s subsequent takeover by the national governing body last week prompted growing uncertainty about the Newcastle league’s financial future.

Under the Hunter Sports Group’s agreement to privatise the Knights, the Newcastle league was promised $300,000 each year.

Before Tinkler, the Knights provided $180,000 to the local competition.

Harris is yet to be contacted by NRL officials but is hopeful of organising a meeting in the next week.

‘‘We’ve not had confirmation, but feedback is that the majority of our funding will be forthcoming for this year,’’ Harris said.

‘‘In saying that, it’s not confirmed, but we’re hoping for confirmation in the next few days or next week.

‘‘Normally it would be around $300,000. We might not get that total, but we’re confident we’ll get very close.

‘‘Expectations are – and they have been for a while – that we’ll have to sit down with the NRL or the owners when they’re decided and put a proposal to them for funding.’’

The league’s annual grant is used to cover administration costs, such as staff wages, as well as the senior and junior representative program.

Newcastle Juniors, Maitland and District Juniors and Group 21 Juniors also receive a slice of that funding.

Asked what would happen to the league if all funding was cut from the Knights, Harris said: ‘‘To keep it at the level we’re at, we’d have to generate that revenue from somewhere else or make substantial cuts in expenses.

‘‘I wouldn’t want to go into what we’d have to do, but if we sit down and realise in the next few months we’re only going to get a certain percentage of that for our future, I suppose we’ll need alternative arrangements.

‘‘We need to consider how that would impact the competition from next year.

‘‘That’s why it’s very urgent we find out quickly what type of funding we have.’’

Harris is reviewing the competition’s structure for next year after meeting with the nine clubs.

He said the restructure would continue regardless.

‘‘We’ll still push forward and we have a timeline for those announcements and we’ll still do that and I would not expect to know our full funding for 2015 and beyond prior to that decision,’’ he said.

‘‘So we’ll make that decision and then work on the funding side from there.’’

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