A significant increase in home games played at St George Illawarra’s Wollongong home is likely to be a key component in moves from the billionaire owner of WIN Corporation, Bruce Gordon, to buy 50 per cent of the NRL club.
Gordon has been linked to the purchase of half of the financially troubled club, with Fairfax Media reporting part of the deal would involve Gordon paying off the Dragons’ debt to the NRL which is rumoured to be around $6 million.
Negotiations between the Dragons and Gordon are at an advanced stage. The NRL would have to tick off on any deal. But given Gordon’s stature and that of his media outlet WIN Corporation, that would likely be simply a rubber stamp from the game’s governing body.
If, or when, the deal with Gordon helps to put the Dragons back in the black, the highly respected businessman could leverage that through further brand exposure for WIN, which is the naming rights sponsor of the Dragons’ southern base, WIN Stadium.
The Dragons have four games scheduled in Wollongong this season, as one of their five home grounds. There have been continual murmurings about the joint venture lessening their commitment to the former home of the Illawarra Steelers. But more games could return to the city as part of the probable new ownership arrangement.
The WIN Network released a statement on Wednesday amid speculation over their move on the Dragons.
“WIN has been a supporter of the St George Illawarra Dragons, and the Illawarra Steelers before them, for the past 34 years,” chief executive Andrew Lancaster said.
“Whilst WIN has entered into discussions with the NRL and the St George Illawarra Dragons joint venture partners, reports of an agreement having been reached are premature and commentary about the terms of any agreement are, at this stage, just speculation.
“We will make no further comment until a resolution, either way, is reached between parties.”