Eric Watson will leave any new Warriors' owner with a wonderful blueprint, in how not to run a footy club.

Watson is apparently ready to sell to businessman Paul Davys, and any shift in the right direction can't come soon enough.

From his remote control overseas to the club's fascination with grandiose distractions, and of course the endless years of major under-achievement and waning public interest, Watson's ownership has left one heck of a mess to clear up.

Watson got the Warriors for a song and turned a potential hit into a lead balloon.


Maybe Watson tried hard but got it wrong. But it's very difficult to find anything good to say about his 17 years of ownership, apart from the odd inspired moment such as the club finding a bloke like Simon Mannering.

The scary large "honours" board of first graders in the Warriors foyer says it all. How could the golden dreams of 1995 have gone so horribly wrong?

So up step a new saviour. Businessman Davys says he is at the fine detail stage of buying the Warriors from Watson.

The NRL payout to clubs trumps the salary cap so this is a game of expertise, not football-style spending, and Watson never got close to finding a sustainable formula.

The Warriors weren't much chop at the point Watson took a stake around 2001, and they haven't been much chop since.

The nadir was a flirtation with setting up professional rugby union teams around 2004, with revelations the club would be delighted to abandon league as its primary purpose.

What emerged was a betrayal and a reason, even after all these years, I find it hard to have a charitable word to say about Watson's ownership.

Even the good times weren't that good, two grand final appearances providing only short-lived joy.

The first visit to the big show was achieved in the erratic days when Mick Watson was CEO, and that ended in tears including the weird departure of coach Daniel Anderson.

The era which led to the 2011 grand final appearance under coach Ivan Cleary appeared to be more cohesive.

Cleary had found a brilliant mentor in John Hart, a Warriors director, and along with assistant coach and super-scout John Ackland, they drove the side to eventual success while circumventing Wayne Scurrah, a chief executive the trio had little faith in.

It has been downhill since, the club even rejecting Cleary's return this season in favour of Steve Kearney, a noble character with a short and shocking record as an NRL head coach.

Cracks have always been there. There was Eric Watson's embarrassing fall out with his Warriors co-owner Owen Glenn about five minutes into their relationship, the expensive courting of little English failure Sam Tomkins, the Kieran Foran shambles, and the extraordinary sight of star signing Issac Luke turning up to his opening trial game looking like he'd been mainlining icecream.

Oh that's right: there was also a salary cap scandal, CEO Watson became distracted by boxing, the club failed to sign brilliant youngsters such as Sonny Bill Williams and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, and on and on and on.

One big worry is the way the club has alienated the budding stars from Auckland and around the country.

What has been Watson's interest in owning the club?

He stated yesterday: "I'm in no rush [to sell] and I'm keen to do what's best for the club."

He's got a chance here to show that his heart is indeed in the right place.

Okay, on to a positive note.

Davys told Dale Budge, the NZME league writer who broke the change-of-ownership story: "I have a huge passion for rugby league and see the ownership of the Warriors as both a privilege and a duty of care to the game in New Zealand. The Warriors is not just a business, it's the heart and soul of rugby league in this country."

Great words. Good luck.