Vodafone Warriors executive chairman Jim Doyle confirmed today that after working with various interested parties, both within New Zealand and internationally, over the last few months the club has been sold to Carlaw Heritage Trust, and Autex Industries Limited.
The sale sees the Vodafone Warriors become formally integrated into New Zealand’s rugby league landscape.
Founded in 1909 and supported by the assets of Carlaw Heritage Trust, Auckland Rugby League is the governing body and administrator of the game of rugby league across the Auckland region.
It is partnering in the acquisition with Autex, a widely respected New Zealand business with a long history of supporting rugby league.
Autex were a pioneering sponsor of New Zealand’s national rugby league team in the late 1970s and 1980s and have continued to be enthusiastic supporters of rugby league.
Autex have more recently been a jersey sponsor of the Kiwis and are currently the naming sponsor of ‘Autex House’, a residential Auckland property providing home-away-from-home accommodation and life skills to some of the Vodafone Warriors’ most promising young players.
Eric Watson acknowledged the support the club has enjoyed throughout his association and expressed the belief that the ownership change is in the best interests of the club.
“After 17 years I am proud to have played a part in the development of rugby league in New Zealand,” he said.
“The Vodafone Warriors have significant engagement within our sporting, business and social communities.
“The decision to sell was not an easy one and although I will always be a passionate supporter of the club, I believe the time is right to hand the club over to a new owner. “It is particularly pleasing to see the club formally become part of rugby league’s local governing body and administrator. The new owner is certainly passionate about the game and, with the addition of the club, it is now genuinely placed to support and grow rugby league from its grassroots through to what is the pinnacle of the sport’s international club competition.
“I wish the new owners all the best. I also thank and acknowledge Jim and the board for their efforts over recent seasons which is certainly paying dividends as this season unfolds.
“Jim’s commitment and leadership brought operational and financial stability to the club, in particular with preserving as its home Mount Smart Stadium and being actively involved in driving the financial benefits to the club of the NRL’s new club funding model,” said Watson.
The change of ownership brings with it a change of board members with Jim Doyle and all fellow directors other than chief executive Cameron George stepping down and the new owner appointing new directors.