WIN Corporation out of running to buy share in St George Illawarra Dragons

Pulling out: WIN Corporation have withdrawn their interest in buying the Steelers' side of the merger. Picture: Chris Lane
Pulling out: WIN Corporation have withdrawn their interest in buying the Steelers' side of the merger. Picture: Chris Lane

St George Illawarra say they are pursuing other options after WIN Corporation advised the club they were no longer interested in purchasing the Illawarra Steelers share.

The Dragons announced in a statement on Tuesday WIN would continue their sponsorship and association with the club but would not be purchasing Illawarra’s 50 per cent equity in the club.

The club said there were a number of other interested parties, with the board committed to find “the right partner for the long term.”

The Dragons are confident a sale will be made this year.

Fairfax Media reported negotiations have been ongoing for more than two years, with the club owing more than $6 million to the NRL to continue as a viable top-flight operation.

It appeared WIN owner Bruce Gordon was prepared to back the NRL club little more than 12 months ago but ongoing issues with the then ownership of Network Ten delayed negotiations. In 2008, Gordon launched a $2.6 million property deal which helped bail out the Steelers Club, a debt owed to the St George Leagues Club, as part owner of the Dragons joint venture.

It has been reported Qatari Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani could be a buyer to bail the Dragons out.

The news comes with the Dragons continuing to plan for life after Peter Doust after the club’s long-serving chief executive officer announced he would retire at the end of the season.

The Dragons board have formed a nominations committee to select a search company to help with the management of the transition process. The committee, in conjunction with the external recruitment agency, will provide a recommendation to the board on a successor.

The Dragons’ board of directors has already seen change recently, with former chairman Warren Lockwood retiring. Lockwood stepped down as chairman midway through last year but remained on the Dragons board.

The St George District Rugby League Football Club board determined that Lockwood's role and place on the Dragons board would be filled by SGDRLFC chairman Craig Young.

Young, who previously had a career in the NSW Police Force before owning and managing a number of hotels in the Wollongong area, has experience as a player, coach and administrator across local, club, state and national levels.

Young joins John Brannon, who replaced Bob Millward as a Steelers nominee to the board of the Dragons at the end of last year, as two new directors of the St George Illawarra Dragons board this year.

Brannon is a company director and chairman working across government, commercial and not for profit boards in various industries.