The due diligence process is starting in an important step towards buying the Warriors.
The Auckland Rugby League have taken a major step in their bid to gain a controlling interest in the Warriors.
The Herald on Sunday understands that the Carlaw Park Heritage Trust, acting on behalf of the ARL, have agreed to start due diligence on the NRL club.
It's believed ARL and Warriors representatives met late last week, and the terms of agreement to begin due diligence were signed.
Due diligence, which can take weeks, is the final step before a sale can be negotiated. It's essentially a comprehensive appraisal of a firm's assets, liabilities and accounts.
This move does not mean the Carlaw Park Heritage Trust are guaranteed to buy the NRL club, or that owner Eric Watson is obliged to sell. But it is a major development which signals the strong intention of both parties.
The ARL weren't prepared to undertake due diligence until they were convinced that purchasing the club was prudent, as well as being beneficial to their clubs and the wider game in the region. That's because the due diligence process will cost up to $60,000.
However, the ARL, after numerous meetings with Warriors representatives and consultation with their stakeholders, have decided to take the next step. It's a significant move because no other potential owner, of which there are at least two, can currently take this step.
It is understood the Warriors' owners will be dealing exclusively with the ARL and Carlaw Park Heritage Trust in the next few weeks, until a sale agreement is reached or one of the parties decides against it.
There is still a gulf in the respective valuations of the club, with majority owner Watson holding out for a figure significantly higher than most of the potential buyers are prepared to pay.
But Watson is also believed to have softened his stance, and he and executive chairman Jim Doyle believe the ARL are the best fit as the club's new owners.
The ARL won't be looking for sole ownership -- they will take a 51 per cent controlling interest -- but they also have corporate partners lined up to buy the remaining share.
As first reported in the Herald on Sunday in August, if the ARL were to gain control of the Warriors, it could be a significant boost for the sport in this country.
It would lead to stronger pathways and better avenues for development, and improved alignment between the NRL operation and the region's amateur clubs.
It would also mean, in time, that the huge drain of talent to Australia could be lessened, as promising local players have options to continue their development in this city.
ARL chairman Cameron McGregor said he was unable to comment on the latest developments and that it remained a "confidential process".
When contacted by the Herald on Sunday, Doyle said that "everything related to the potential sale of the Warriors is private and confidential, out of respect to all parties involved".