The sale of the Warriors to minority owner Autex Industries has moved a step closer, after a key meeting last night in Auckland.
The Avondale-based company currently have a 33 per cent stake in the NRL franchise, after entering a joint venture with the Carlaw Heritage Trust (67 per cent) to buy the club off Eric Watson last April.
That partnership has collapsed, after months of tension, and Autex are seeking to gain full control of the club.
But there was also a counter offer on the table, where Autex would sell its share to the CHT.
There had been a push — led by CHT chairman Cameron McGregor — to explore the possibility of taking full control of the Warriors.
But that prospect seems remote now, after a meeting between the CHT board and the ARL board in Auckland last night.
The Herald understands that the ARL executive members refused to entertain the possibility of retaining a stake in the Warriors, and made it clear to the members of the CHT board that there was no interest in investing more to take on full control.
While the CHT board will have the final say in how they proceed, the ARL are the sole beneficiaries of the Trust, which was set up with the proceeds of the sale of Carlaw Park in the mid-2000s.
There is essentially no way the CHT board can, or will, disregard the emphatic views of the ARL board.
On Thursday night the chairman of all 32 Auckland clubs will meet with the ARL board, and are expected to rubber stamp their decision, given the current mood among the clubs.
The impending sale of the Warriors to Autex will have ramifications for the CHT and the Auckland clubs, as there is expected to be a difference of up to $3 million in the price that the CHT paid for their stake last April, and the offer that Autex has made.
It's also still possible that another buyer could enter the equation to take over CHT's stake in the club, but Autex will get first right of refusal on any other offer.
Despite all the shareholder dramas of the past few months, Warriors' coach Stephen Kearney said they had had little or no impact on the playing group.
Kearney said he had been aware of the situation "for a while" but it had been in the back of his mind as he has had many more pressing priorities, and the playing group had been isolated from it.
"No one would've really known about it until it came out in the papers [last weekend]," said Kearney. "I had an awareness [but] I wasn't giving it any energy because my focus is on trying to manage the performance on the weekend."
Kearney also backed the potential takeover by Autex, who are represented on the Warriors board by chairman Rob Croot and CEO Mark Robinson.
"I know with Rob and Mark what they're trying to do is for the best interests for the footy club and that's all I'm concerned about," said Kearney. "They're good people with their hearts and minds in the right place for the club. It doesn't bother me whatsoever, we just crack on and plan for the pre-season and move forward."