The Auckland Rugby League have confirmed they are in preliminary discussions to buy the Warriors.

The ARL has submitted a letter of intent to the club, and hope to become the majority owners of the NRL franchise.

As first reported in the Herald on Sunday two weeks ago, the ARL discussed the issue at board level soon after the Herald broke the news that Eric Watson was open to selling the club.

"We see ourselves as a natural fit with the club," ARL chairman Cameron McGregor told the Herald. "We have had discussions with the owners of the Warriors and they have been encouraging so far. We have a long standing commitment to development, and to the grassroots of the game, and we believe that this would be a good step forward. We think it would be a major boost for the sport in this country."


The ARL, who were the original owners of the club when it was set up in 1995, would look to own the Warriors in conjunction with a corporate partner.

"There is obviously a football side and a business side to the operation," said McGregor. "We would be involved with a corporate but the ARL would be the majority shareholder."

The ARL has yet to undertake due diligence, and that would only be completed once a sale agreement has been signed.

The ARL are one of the richest regional sporting bodies in the country. Their stake in the Carlaw Park Heritage Trust is worth an estimated $60 million, but most of that is tied up in property and returns a vital dividend to the local game each year.

McGregor said they have "sufficient funds available" to purchase a share of the club.

McGregor also said that the proposal has been discussed with the clubs. It's likely the development will be greeted positively by the local league community.

It would be the ideal solution to integrate the country's only NRL club much closer to its roots. It would also boost club and secondary school league in the area.

The Warriors, for all their issues on the field, are now a stable business operation. They are not bogged down with debt, and unlike some Australian clubs, don't require handouts to stay solvent.

And the new NRL club funding model will further bolster the equation. Clubs will get at least $3 million more annually from the NRL, which almost guarantees the Warriors a seven-figure profit each season, regardless of performance.

The club has done well in a business sense over the last five years but they haven't made the same gains in development, to their cost.

It's meant that Australian clubs and agents have the pick of the crop of local young talent in the region, with the Warriors becoming just another option, instead of the aspiration club of choice.

It's led to hundreds of players departing these shores each year, but better pathways and an improved local competition, could help to reverse that trend.