FFA to meet potential NZ Knights owners
The New Zealand Knights' future should start becoming clearer on Wednesday when a high-powered delegation from Football Federation Australia (FFA) meet with three rival consortiums interested in running the troubled A-League franchise in Auckland.
FFA chief executive Ben Buckley and head of operations Matt Carroll will consider the merits of a trio of bids vying to inherit the licence revoked by the A-League's governing body last month.
New Zealand Soccer (NZS) chief executive Graham Seatter said his organisation was excited at the prospect of prolonging the Knights' existence in the Australian competition after two underwhelming seasons.
"We've very positive, it will be an interesting day," he said.
Seatter refused to reveal details about the three interested bidders though they are understood to be based in Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North.
The Auckland consortium was the last to join the race to secure the licence which requires a minimum investment of $2 million.
The FFA is anxious to have a new owner in place by the end of the month so next season's schedule can be finalised.
Seatter said it was vital any new regime was in place as soon as possible as negotiations as rival clubs were already in the process of securing players for next year.
"Other clubs are doing just that. We don't want our club to be behind the eight ball," Seatter said.
"From all points of view the sooner (ownership is resolved) the better."
Seatter said he was open minded about the club remaining in Auckland noting the Knights and predecessors, the Football Kingz, had struggled to generate a consistent level of support.
The Kingz first emerged in 1999 and although based in Auckland they also played in Christchurch and Wellington, with 13,000 fans once turning out in the capital.
The FFA stripped the previous owners, led by British-based businessman Brian Katzen, of the licence and there were grave concerns whether the underperforming franchise would survive.
The FFA bankrolled the team for their four remaining matches, during which the Knights encouragingly picked up three wins and a draw under caretaker coach Ricki Herbert.