Carlaw Heritage Trust along with investment partner Autex Industries have reached settlement on the share purchase of the Vodafone Warriors for a confidential sum and are now joint owners of the franchise with shareholdings of 67% and 33% respectively. The simplicity of terms and the ability to settle quickly contributed to a successful negotiation.
Carlaw Heritage Trust chairman Cameron McGregor said the clean sale suited everybody’s desire for stability for the club and its people. Other than the appointment of a new look board – which is yet to be decided – it will be business as usual for the staff, team and management.
“Our goal in purchasing the Vodafone Warriors is to provide the team with a long term, stable future and to grow and strengthen the game of rugby league in Auckland and throughout New Zealand," said McGregor.
“It is no secret that New Zealand loses up to 800 talented young players every year to Australia and the UK – 500 from Auckland alone. In purchasing the Vodafone Warriors, we have a vision. It starts with a child playing league at the age of six and following a clear path to a professional future without having to leave behind family and friends – we need the pathways, infrastructure and resources to allow that to happen.
“Our association with Auckland Rugby League, and in future other league districts around New Zealand, will bring both passion for the game, grassroots knowledge and support, and a clearly defined and integrated pathway to professionalism for local players.”
McGregor said Carlaw Heritage Trust has over the last decade built a strong financial position with a board of trustees who possess excellent business and governance skills and experience. Combining this with Autex Industries’ corporate expertise and discipline, the two investment partners are confident that the Vodafone Warriors team will have all the necessary support and resources needed to succeed in the NRL.
“Our business and corporate skills, together with our natural rugby league heritage and grassroots resources, will give the Vodafone Warriors a stable future, sound financial backing and renewed links with grassroots rugby league," he said.
“CEO Cameron George and head coach Stephen Kearney, along with the staff and the team at Vodafone Warriors, have the full support and confidence of both partners – we have no plans to change or disrupt a winning combination.”
McGregor said that didn’t mean the new owners wouldn’t explore new, more creative ideas in helping the club, the team and its fans achieve greater success.
“We’ll start by taking a group to Australia to visit some of the more successful clubs across the ditch to see what we can learn from them.
“On the financial front we know, for example, that some teams in the NRL have cash reserves of up to $20m, and we want to achieve this for the Vodafone Warriors as soon as possible – rather than resourcing being subject to the ups and downs of on field success.”
The trustees of Carlaw Heritage Trust and corporate partners Autex Industries anticipate improved financial success for the Vodafone Warriors in 2018, based on their current success on the playing field as well as improved funding from the NRL.
“Once we know the Vodafone Warriors have good financial stability we will look to pour the profits back into the grassroots game here in New Zealand so that all rugby league players – men, women and children – as well as our fans, will benefit," he said.
“At the moment, New Zealand is a free-for-all for every professional team in the world. They come to Auckland, they hold camps, and they have their pick of our kids – we aim to put an end to that by offering our kids a clearly defined professional pathway that they can follow; one that benefits the player and our country,”
ABOUT CARLAW CHARITY TRUST
Carlaw Heritage Trust was set up with the profit from the sale of Carlaw Park and is separate and independent from Auckland Rugby League (ARL). While ARL benefits from income generate by Carlaw Heritage Trust, both organisations have separate boards.
The Carlaw Heritage Trust was established in its current format in 2009 and holds independently the financial assets of the Auckland Rugby League Incorporated.
Carlaw Heritage Trust is a registered charity and holds significant investments in property and shares.