Key Points:

The manner in which the New Zealand Knights Football Club signed off yesterday succinctly summed up its tumultuous existence.

In moving to absolve itself from the position which it insists forced its hand in closing the doors and ceasing trading, the statement from chairman Anthony Lee ended: "There will be no further comment from NZ Knights FC Ltd".

In those few words, the club underlined the root of many of its problems.

Too quick to hide behind the "no comment" line, the club has, almost from day one, been a disaster waiting to happen.

There is no doubt that overseas benefactor Brian Katzen moved from the equally under-performing Football Kingz to the Knights with the very best intentions and a will to work closely with soccer bosses across the Tasman in ensuring the NZ entry into the fledgling Hyundai A-League would succeed.

To do that Katzen needed strong Auckland-based support and the right people in the right places.

But, with the odd exception, he never got it.

Anthony Lee, who had returned to New Zealand and pointed to a successful business career in Britain, quickly came on board and, at face value, seemed equally genuine in his desire to turn things around from the bad old Kingz days and make the Knights a club which would enjoy full support - on and off the field.

Lee - who quickly showed that being the chairman of a football club was the biggest goal in his life - and Katzen never got the necessary backing.

John Adshead was appointed football manager. He quickly admitted that he had underestimated the strength of the new competition and the players he had inherited/recruited were not going to be good enough.

Strangely though, the club handed out one-, two- and even three-year contracts like there was no tomorrow. Another mistake.

In going along with Lee's insistence that Tommy Mason was the best man to be his assistant coach, Adshead was again handed a hospital pass. Nice bloke Tommy, but not experienced or hard-nosed enough for the role.

The season kicked off with high hopes and a crowd of 9827 - a number never approached since. Any joy was short-lived.

Lee again showed his hand six matches into the season when Guy Hedderwick, whom Katzen initially backed as chief executive, was shown the door and replaced by Lee's buddy Steve O'Hara, who quickly learned he was out of his depth.

He hung around until May this year when he, too, quit as chief executive and director.

The door almost swung off its hinges with the comings and goings.

In such an unstable atmosphere, it followed that the off-field rumblings were reflected in on-field results.

Only Darren Bazeley and Zenon Caravella played all 21 matches in the inaugural season, in which just 15 goals were scored as the Knights stumbled their way to just one win and three draws and an ignominious last place on the table - 20 points behind second-to-last Melbourne Victory who, unlike the Knights, have turned it around in season two.

It was always an uneasy existence.

The Herald was called to a Saturday morning meeting deep in the bowels of North Harbour Stadium for an "exclusive". Ronnie Bull wanted out. Personal reasons were cited.

A month later, another meeting and Simon Yeo was heading for the airport. Things in the dressing-room were far from rosy.

Days later captain Danny Hay joined the list and left.

Like Hedderwick before him, Hay was forced by Lee to say nothing or risk severance moneys due.

By February this year Mason, too, was gone. Coincidently, just a week later Paul Nevin was appointed head coach to work alongside Adshead. Two days later former Socceroo Eddie Krncevic was on board to work, among other things, in a scouting role. He hasn't been heard of since.

In March, Jeremy Brockie, the team's leading scorer in season one and a player seen as a genuine hope (and with a much-needed New Zealand presence), decided he would not be back and switched to champions Sydney FC.

The following month came the bombshell of Adshead's resignation.

Then followed the fast appointment of Alan Yates as commercial manager (he lasted four months), O'Hara's departure, Nevin's appointment as the new Messiah and Simon Kozak's arrival as marketing manager.

Amid all this, Chris Turner resigned as a board member and the last link with the Kingz was gone.

He was unhappy at the link between the Knights and New Zealand Soccer.

Nevin looked to Britain and elsewhere to come up with a squad he was quick to assure would compete. They didn't, and inevitably he fell off the radar and was replaced by Barry Simmonds, who took the coaching reins after Lee initially appointed him director of football.

Happy families don't win matches or leagues.

With just Noah Hickey, Che Bunce, then Mark Paston and sometimes Michael White (even Campbell Banks for a few minutes ) to give a New Zealand presence, support dwindled.

On the field there were a couple of useful efforts and a glimmer of hope. Not for long. The odd good performance was quickly forgotten in stumbling 0-4, 0-4 and 1-4 losses.

The rumour mill hit overdrive. The Knights were a club in trouble, only Lee did not want to admit it. Just this week the Knights were inviting applications for the team manager/head coach role.

They won't have to sift through that lot (if any came in) as the rug has been pulled from under them.

There will be some sympathy for Katzen and one or two others, including players such as Bazeley, Neil Emblem, Hickey and Caravella who never stopped trying.

But that alone was never going to be enough.

Chairman Anthony Lee on why the Knights' days are over

Key to the short-term survival was the payment of the $300,000 grant from the FFA [Football Federation of Australia] in relation to the broadcast deal with Fox Sports. This was due on November 15. New Zealand Knights Football Club Ltd has made it clear that without delivery of this money, as was agreed in writing between the two parties, the club could not satisfy creditor demands and therefore could not continue to trade. The FFA's response was to cancel the licence, notification coming through late on the evening of December 14. This action by the FFA effectively ended any prospect of any other funding solution, be it by the existing owners or other investors, and took the decision out of the current owner's hands.

... And now

Ricki Herbert, the new coach of the Knights, is hopeful he will have a side to take across the Tasman to face A-League leaders Melbourne tomorrow.

The Knights players met FFA officials yesterday to work through issues arising over the club's licence being revoked.

Herbert came out midway through the meeting and indicated that one concern expressed was the future of a number of players beyond this season.

Asked if there would be a team on the plane for today's scheduled flight to Melbourne, he said: "I think that's a priority for all people.

* It was confirmed last night the match between the Knights and Melbourne will go ahead tomorrow. A Knights side will be picked this morning.

- NZPA