Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett’s future in Newcastle remains ‘‘unclear’’ despite the NRL’s decision to take temporary ownership of the Knights.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith was at Hunter Stadium on Saturday to formally announce the end of Nathan Tinkler’s tumultuous three-year tenure as Knights owner, but Bennett said that did not equate to instant stability.
Smith’s declaration ended months of uncertainty after Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group failed to secure a new bank guarantee by March 31, thereby reneging on the terms of their August 2011 privatisation agreement.
Using $5.1 million in start-up funds from what was left of the existing $10.52 million bank guarantee, Smith said the Knights will now be ‘‘in the top tier of football clubs across the whole game in terms of its financial strength’’.
Smith, Knights chief executive Matt Gidley and chairman Paul Harragon were in a buoyant mood at the announcement on Saturday, but Bennett was more circumspect after his team’s 29-12 loss to the Roosters at Allianz Stadium later that night.
Asked for his thoughts, Bennett said ‘‘scattered’’.
‘‘Well it’s a starting point. It’s not stable yet,’’ Bennett said. ‘‘The NRL have done a really good job to get it to that position, and Nathan’s put us in a much better position than we were three years ago, so hopefully in the next few months when it’s really sorted out and finalised totally, then it will be a new beginning. But it’s not there yet.’’
Reportedly earning $1 million a year, Bennett is contracted until the end of next year, but there has been speculation he could leave at the end of this season or be asked to take a pay cut.
Bennett has said several times in the past three months that whether he stays or goes was not necessarily his decision alone, and would be determined by discussions he will have with the club’s new owners.
‘‘That’s exactly how it’s going to work. There’s no other way I can describe it,’’ he said.
Bennett believed any conversation he has about his future will not be with the NRL.