Knights' fans cheer on their team at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle
Knights' fans cheer on their team at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle PAUL MILLER

Knights fans will riot if club is relocated to Queensland

RUGBY LEAGUE: The NRL's bluff to relocate the Newcastle Knights to Brisbane has been met with indignation in Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane.

The Daily Telegraph's report that league administrators will look to move the Knights to Queensland if they are unable to offload the wooden-spooners to a private buyer was on Monday ridiculed by Knights legend Matthew Johns as well as Ipswich Jets chairman Steve Johnson.

According to reports, Ipswich is the likely destination for a Newcastle relocation because of the demand for a fourth team in Queensland from rugby league broadcasters.

Johns said Newcastle fans would riot against the NRL if administrators went through with the move.

"It won't happen," Johns told Triple M. "Knowing the community up there. They'd set NRL headquarters on fire first."

He told The Daily Telegraph the NRL would be making a "stupid" move as a knee-jerk reaction to the club's recent poor results on and off the field.

"I first thought it was complete and utter garbage," Johns said. "They wouldn't want to do it - not in my lifetime or even my grandkids'.

"A few difficult years don't add up to even investigating something this stupid. It's one of the game's greatest heartlands."

The NRL took ownership of the Knights following the disastrous Nathan Tinkler era and have been looking to sell the club for the past two years.

The club has been leaking money after winning just one match in 2016 and winning back-to-back wooden spoons.

The Wests Newcastle Group, which operates the Wests Leagues Club has been negotiating with the NRL to take over ownership of the Knights, but is determined not to over pay for the franchise, according to The Daily Telegraph.


Jeremy Smith with Knights fans at Hunter Stadium last year.
Jeremy Smith with Knights fans at Hunter Stadium last year. DARREN PATEMAN

A potential move to Ipswich would be a disaster for the Knights because of local community ties to the Ipswich Jets Queensland Cup club and the reluctance of Brisbane supporters to jump ship and support a team from NSW.

Rugby League commentator Anthony Dobson told Triple M Brisbane's Marto, Ed and Robin, Ipswich supporters would be unlikely to embrace a Knights team, even if it was based in western Brisbane.

"I spoke to Steve Johnson who is the chairman of the Ipswich Jets and he said, 'Look, we know we need a team here'. He said it makes no sense to rip out a (rugby league) heartland Newcastle," he said.

"They need another team and it needs to be in Ipswich. They are the Jets."

Meanwhile, Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale said he supports the concept of the Knights relocating to Brisbane under a "sister city" relationship between Ipswich and Newcastle.

"The NRL have got to start waking up and look after their fans," Pisasale told River949.

"We're a great rugby league town. We are the biggest membership base of for Brisbane Broncos.

"We love our rugby league. The game is thinking about TV rights and this and that and they're forgetting the fans. Please, please, let us know who the next team is going to be so we can all get on with life."

News Corp Australia

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