A last-ditch attempt to stop the sale of the Warriors to minority shareholder Autex Industries has failed, with a significant majority of Auckland league clubs voting to proceed with the transaction.
This was despite a renewed bid by former Warriors chairman Cameron McGregor to sway the clubs with a proposal to invest hundreds of thousands into the grassroots game from 2020 onwards, via the NRL club.
The pitch also included an initiative to pay two per cent of all Warriors annual player contract payments back to the Auckland junior club (or clubs) that produced them, as well as a flat $2000 payment for each local player signed by the Warriors, to be distributed on a pro-rata basis.
That kind of plan would only be contingent on the Carlaw Heritage Trust, essentially an arm of the Auckland Rugby League, with the clubs as its sole beneficiary, taking full control of the Warriors by buying out the 33 per cent stake Autex owns.
But that scenario seems extremely unlikely, given the ARL board and CHT board have already passed resolutions in favour of the sale.
The final step was Friday night's meeting, where the clubs left no doubt as to their sentiments.
The Herald on Sunday understands that at the end of the meeting, 20 clubs voted in favour of a motion to support CHT selling their 67 per cent share of the Warriors. Six clubs voted against the motion, four abstained.
McGregor remains an influential figure behind the scenes due to his long tenure as ARL and CHT chairman but has been sidelined from official channels.
The ARL board recently voted to remove him from the CHT, although he is appealing that decision, which also effectively removes him from the Warriors board.
Friday's meeting was opened by a representative from Richmond Rovers who gave a lengthy opening statement in support of the CHT retaining ownership of the NRL club.
They delivered a vision of what the 2020 season could look like if CHT took full control of the Warriors.
• $3000 per Fox Memorial team, per game, for player payments ($588,000 total).
• $15,000 grant to each Sharman Cup team (second tier).
• $2000 payment by Warriors for each local player signed by NRL club on pro rata basis.
• Two per cent per annum of all annual player contracts paid to the junior club(s) that helped produce that player.
The Richmond statement said "this will only happen in 2020 if the Trust (CHT) buys out Autex. Autex will not agree to the Warriors supporting the clubs in this way", adding it was a "once in a lifetime opportunity".
McGregor then spoke at length outlining the proposal and the case for the Warriors to be retained by the CHT.
He also reiterated his long-term idea to axe the present Warriors reserve grade model and eventually use a revamped Fox Memorial competition for that purpose.
But McGregor faced strong opposition from the clubs and also members of the CHT board, who pointed out that the Warriors are forecast to continue to run at a financial loss in the medium term, and will require more investment annually.
One delegate said there was a "bit of anger" at the meeting, although everyone, including McGregor, had a chance to put their case.
Another club chairman told the Herald on Sunday he had no confidence in McGregor.
"He keeps on promising things but there is no way they could be delivered," he said. "It's in the best interests of the local game to stay out of the running of an NRL club."
McGregor could not be contacted by the Herald on Sunday.