Negotiations with a Tongan-American consortium to buy the Warriors almost collapsed yesterday but frantic talks mean a deal could be finalised within days.
Warriors owner Eric Watson and Hawaiian politician Richard Fale's Tongan-American group were unable to agree on a price for the Auckland-based franchise during lengthy talks that ended in a stalemate on Wednesday evening when a formal offer of $22 million was rejected.
Watson was reportedly asking for $24 million and the Herald understands common ground was found yesterday following a rollercoaster 24 hours of negotiations, enabling talks to move forward.
A frustrated Fale said he was prepared to abandon the bid and fly home, but a deal is back on the table and close to being sealed.
Fale insists his consortium could pay almost any price but says they refuse to raise their offer simply on principle.
The 36-year-old will remain in Auckland and attend the Warriors' first home game of the season against the Gold Coast Titans at Mt Smart Stadium tomorrow.
"We're in a much better spot," Fale said. "We have values and principles we are not going to compromise. Money isn't a value and money isn't a principle.
"We conveyed what our principles are that we're not going to compromise and it seems that they've accepted that. I'm not going to fly out tomorrow, let's put it that way."
We're in a much better spot. We have values and principles we are not going nto compromise. Money isn't a value and money isn't a principle.
Fale, chief executive of the Tongan-American bid, together with American businessman and financial adviser George 'Mac' Robertson, have been in the country since Friday attempting to thrash out a deal.
Fale's consortium remain favourites among a four-horse race to buy the club, with the Auckland Rugby League, and a third group — believed to be Waikato-based businessmen backed by Chinese investors — positioned some distance ahead of a fourth mystery prospective buyer. Fale has begun canvassing legal representatives in New Zealand to assist in negotiations.
"You're talking about timelines in the US, timelines in Hawaii, and it will take 24 hours just to get it approved across the board," he said.
"And then if anyone makes any changes, you have to wait for the next 24-hour cycle to get that approval."
Warriors chairman and former managing director Jim Doyle — who has a 10 per cent stake in the club — declined to comment on the negotiations.
The ongoing ownership saga is seen by the club as an unwanted distraction as the Warriors prepare to face the Titans after their impressive round one win over South Sydney.
Doyle said the club has non-disclosure agreements with all bids, preventing them discussing the sale.