'Big four' to rescue the Force
SUPER RUGBY REVAMP: A group of heavyweight rugby identities and millionaire businessmen are plotting to save the Western Force from Super Rugby oblivion.
According to reports in the Daily Telegraph, the big four behind the rescue mission include former ARU chief executive Gary Flowers, Western Force chief Peter O'Meara, businessman Jon Collins and former ARU and Waratahs director Raymond Burke.
Burke's - who co-owns the Highlanders franchise - proposal to take over the ticketing at the Force's home ground nib Stadium was rejected by the previous Western Australian government, but it has been resubmitted.
If the deal with the WA government is fruitful, Burke has pledged to pump in AUS$50-Million (US$38-million) into the Force over the next 10 years.
"We are not asking for any money from the government.
"We’re just asking for assets that we will turn around and invest into the Western Force, and I guarantee that if they give us the support the Force will win a premiership in five years like the Highlanders did," Burke told the Daily telegraph.
Meanwhile, Flowers, O’Meara and Collins have all purchased shares in the Own The Force campaign, which insiders say has pledges of AUS$8-million (US$6-million).
"This idea of community ownership is worth exploring, and Perth is a unique market compared to Queensland and NSW because of the connection to the community," O’Meara stated to the Daily telegraph.
Giving the outcome of the legal writ the Force have taken against Australia Rugby Union, businessman Collins has not ruled out private ownership of the franchise.
“The Own The Force campaign is a great initiative, I will be investing in it, and then I will be talking further to Peter [O’Meara] about what we can do once the legal action put in place has been resolved,” Collins said.
“I was an ARU director from 2002-04 and we looked in detail at the two proposals from Perth and Victoria when we were introducing a new team, it was a resounding ‘yes’ for Perth to get the next Super Rugby side.
“While they haven’t had success in winning the competition, there has been great success in junior development and grassroots enthusiasm.
“Western Australian fans will feel as though they’ve been led down the garden path with what’s happened at the ARU over the past four months," Collins said.