GET THE FACTS

Newcastle Herald

Friday March 25, 2011

By JOSH LEESON

KNIGHTS coach Rick Stone, captain Kurt Gidley and legend Andrew Johns have joined Nathan Tinkler's TV ad campaign, but Stone yesterday urged club members to educate themselves fully on the details of the takeover before making their decision.Stone and Gidley personally endorsed Tinkler's bid to buy the Knights in a full-page advertisement in yesterday's Herald and also filmed a television commercial yesterday afternoon at Belmont to further support the plan.Johns, the Knights' greatest player, yesterday became the most high-profile Tinkler backer by appearing in his own advertisement shot in Sydney.Both ads will start airing on Monday before members vote on the takeover on Thursday night.Stone is a believer in the privatisation plan but said members should attend the Tinkler Sports Group's information night at Newcastle Panthers on Monday to educate themselves on all the facts."It might be my personal opinion [to vote yes], but I definitely want the members to show up on Monday and ask questions themselves and find out a little bit about the Tinkler group and their vision," Stone said."I think the biggest disparity here has been the lack of information and lack of understanding of information, and that's been a little frustrating for all parties. This would be the opportune time for all members to ask some hard questions and look the people in the eye that are likely to take over our club and will have the massive responsibility of ownership of this place."Tinkler is expected to address members on Monday, along with TSG executive chairman Ken Edwards and chief executive Troy Palmer.Continued Page 68Stone urges info night attendanceFrom Page 72It will be TSG's best chance to shore up the 75 per cent of the vote needed to take over the Knights.Stone said a perception that members would lose a say in their club was the biggest concern from feedback he had received about the Tinkler proposal."The members have always had a say in their club and they always need to have one because it's an important ingredient in how it was set up, and I'd like to think that needs to remain consistent regardless of who owns our football club," he said."Under the Tinkler model I think that will be the case."TSG has pledged to erase the Knights' estimated $3 million of accumulated debts, underwrite sponsorship for $10 million annually for the next decade and inject $2.5 million a year into junior development.The deal would make Stone among the best-resourced coaches in the NRL.Stone is particularly excited by the injection of funding into junior development."One of the biggest things is making sure our juniors are resourced well," he said. "Our junior representative sides, our development program."It's fair to say our development program has one of the best league-growing areas in Australia and traditionally it's continued to produce players, and it will continue to produce players, albeit in a different cycle."

© 2011 Newcastle Herald

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