By STEVE MASCORD
MELBOURNE Storm may have been visited by News Limited chairman Rupert Murdoch last week but the media corporation says the premiers are still very much for sale.
Murdoch’s visit to AAMI Park last week was seen as proof the franchise was back in the good books after the embarassment caused to the global conglomerate by the 2010 salary cap scandal. But News general manager of rugby league Dennis Watt says offers to buy the team are still welcome.
And he is convinced Craig Bellamy will stay in Melbourne.
“At some point News have always said they would sell the club – but there’s a few things to consider about that,” said Watt. “We’ve just done the corporate governance.
“We want to ensure that if and when it happened, it goes into the right set of hands – someone who’s got the best interests of the game at heart, someone who’s got the best interests of the club at heard and someone who’s got the wherewithall to turn it into a thriving business.”
News originally propped up the Storm because it also half-owned the game and believed the competition needed a national presence. But while the ARL Commission now runs the sport, News isn’t in a hurry to drop the premiers.”Not at this stage,” said Watt. “It hasn’t been the focus. The focus has been tidying up that corporate governance area, stabilising the club and supporting the people who drive it. There’s no such timeline. News has made a massive investment over 15 years down there. It has been about developing a national competition. There’s a few boxes that need to be ticked before News would exit.”
Keeping Bellamy would keep the asking price for the club up.
“Craig’s been very considered about all this. He always said he wouldn’t even think about it until the off-season. Well, that starts from (Sunday). I just think that his connection with this team and these guys … (they’ve) achieved so much, it’s so great, that he’ll want to continue.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK