'Titans not out of NRL woods yet'

Steve Jancetic, NZ Newswire April 4, 2012, 9:24 pm

ARL Commission chief executive David Gallop says it is still too early to tell whether Gold Coast's sale of their beleaguered Centre of Excellence will be enough to save the NRL club from financial oblivion.

The Titans on Wednesday sold the building which is at the heart of the club's reported $A25 million debt for an undisclosed sum - with under siege managing director Michael Searle trumpeting the sale as a significant step in shoring up the club's future.

But with independent auditors still finalising their investigation into the club's finances - the ARL Commission is expecting a report within days - Gallop said the impact of the Centre of Excellence sale was not yet apparent.

"If that indeed assists a move towards a viable footy club, then it's a positive," Gallop said.

"Let me be clear. Our primary concern throughout this has been the footy club and not the building and, therefore, the extent to which this assists the level of indebtedness in the footy club is not clear to us at this stage.

"There is a heavy amount of debt in the footy club."

The Centre of Excellence - an initiative of Searle's which was supposed to provide the football club with an ongoing revenue stream - was sold to long-term club supporters Phil Ward and Bob Clark, who run a company called Handling Solutions.

Handling Solutions is believed to be one of the unpaid creditors of the building, but their purchase has freed the Titans football club of their loan with the Commonwealth Bank, which was reportedly worth in excess of $A13 million.

But the Titans will have to pay rent to use the building, with their capacity to do so likely to rely heavily on funding from the ARL Commission.

Gallop would not be drawn on whether the league would give the Titans money beyond the $A3.85 million grant already given to each of the 16 clubs.

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