It seems the Auckland Rugby League will be the new owners of the Warriors.

The ARL, represented by the Carlaw Park Heritage Trust, have agreed a sale and purchase agreement with Eric Watson and his representatives.

There could still be a late u turn by either party — and there have been numerous twists and turns since Watson first admitted he was open to selling the club last August — but the deal is believed to be '99 per cent' complete.

The Herald on Sunday understands the final documentation will be completed over the coming days, with a formal announcement expected later this week.


The ARL aren't expected to make any immediate changes to the club, and will take a business as usual approach for the rest of this season.

Former Warriors CEO Wayne Scurrah and ex-Kiwis, Manly and Queensland coach Graham Lowe have been involved in the ARL bid, but it's not yet known what roles (if any) they will have within the ownership of the club.

ARL Chairman Cameron McGregor declined to comment when contacted by the Herald on Sunday late last night.

Warriors' executive chairman Jim Doyle, who along with Don Stanway has been overseeing the negotiation's on Watson's behalf in New Zealand, was also reluctant to discuss the progress that had been made.

"As we have said all along, any negotiations are private and confidential out of respect to all parties and we will not be making any further comments until the deal is finalised," said Doyle.

Richard Fale, who is head of the Tongan-American consortium that has also been negotiating with Watson to purchase the club, indicated earlier on Saturday that they weren't willing to see the drawn out process continue for too much longer.

"There are a lot of moving pieces on the table for us," said Fale, who added that his group had been approached by other sports teams seeking investors. "We are going to be making some solid commitments so they need to make their minds up. We have capital out there and we want to do something with it but we can't wait for ever...we are not going to be the late night booty call."

The ARL are understood to have steadily increased their offer over the past few weeks, though it is still believed to be less than the $24 million that Fale's group (Pacific Sports International) had put on the table. However the overall package — and the relative simplicity of the ARL deal — has evidently appealed to Watson.


The impending sale will bring to an end what has become a convoluted saga. In August last year the Herald revealed that Auckland businessman Paul Davys had approached Watson with an offer to purchase the franchise. That didn't eventuate, but soon afterwards Watson issued a public statement.

"While I'm often approached about selling the club I will confirm that I'm in conversation with a few different parties about the Warriors, but I'm in no rush and I'm keen to do what's best for the club, said Watson at the time."

The ARL's interest was confirmed by the Herald soon afterwards. They completed due diligence — and made an initial offer — before pulling out of the process, for unspecified reasons. Monty Betham suggested a crowd funding option — but that was short lived and there was also interest from a Waikato based group funded out of China.

But Fale's bid, revealed by the Herald on Sunday in February, raised the stakes and lifted the public profile of the process. Fale had big plans, including games in North America and a new stadium and his highly publicised visit to New Zealand in March created all kinds of headlines.

Another mystery group has recently declared their interest in purchasing the club, though little is known about this consortium apart from the fact that it consists of local and overseas investors.

Both the ARL and PSI appeared to have the inside running at various times over the last few months, but it seems that the ARL have prevailed.