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Tinkler's men meet Knights members

Date

Sydney

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley and coach Wayne Bennett leaving Monday's meeting.

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley and coach Wayne Bennett leaving Monday's meeting. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

A member of the Newcastle Knights board that approved Nathan Tinkler's takeover has called for caution over the rising rancour about the NRL club's future.

The Knights Members Club (KMC) directors and Hunter Sports Group (HSG) met on Monday night, with the former airing concerns about the direction of the club and Tinkler's spiralling debt.

Tinkler's right-hand man, HSG chief executive Troy Palmer, Knights boss Matt Gidley and coach Wayne Bennett addressed the KMC and did their best to allay fears at the meeting.

Palmer and Gidley reinforced their view that a tax bill of approximately $3 million would be paid, all of HSG's creditors would be paid, and that an audit report into the Knights' 2012 financial operations would reveal HSG had met all requirements.

Despite rumblings, KMC chairman Nicholas Dan wasn't ready to demand that Tinkler hand back the NRL licence.

"It's a privately owned club and it's in their hands what happens from here," Dan said on Monday.

It was the first KMC meeting since the tax office moved last week to liquidate eight companies linked to Tinkler, including the Knights, and the Newcastle A-League franchise.

Tinkler's public perception problem has become a crisis over the past week, but one man who was sitting on the club's board when the white knight rode into town in 2011 leapt to his defence.

"It's disappointing that such a great bloke is sitting on hard times," said the board member who did not wish to be named.

"The good thing about him is the one love he has got is for his Knights and the players he's formed a bond with.

"You can pat a horse but it won't talk back to you. He'll bounce back and I know the players aren't worried."

Tinkler offloaded his prized racehorse All Too Hard on the weekend, with some suggesting the funds could be used to pay off HSG debts.

Even if the KMC was to make a stand against Tinkler, it's unlikely to happen before an independent audit into HSG's finances, which will examine whether Tinkler has met all obligations in his takeover.

Gidley and Dan agreed in principle last Wednesday to change the audit date from December 15 to January 21.

Brent Perkins, partner of Knights auditors Crosbie Warren Sinclair, noted on Monday the delay had nothing to do with Tinkler's precarious financial situation.

"As the financial reporting year is to 31 December, this (audit) obviously could not be completed and issued for the full year by that date (December 15)," Perkins said.

"We understand that the recently proposed amendments will allow the audit to be completed and our report to be issued by 21 January each year."

Even if HSG makes good on its debt-clearing promise, Dan still has concerns about the club's reputation.

"We're very happy with the way memberships have increased and the money spent on facilities but we've got to look more broadly at the brand," Dan told Sky Sports Radio on Monday.

"I firmly believe creditors need to be paid in a timely manner."

Palmer suggested there were issues HSG "should apologise for" but was steadfast the club was in safe hands.

"I talk to Nathan every day ... there is no chance of Nathan going under," Palmer said.

AAP

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