Kiwi entrepreneur buys the Melbourne Storm

ROGER VAUGHAN
Last updated 14:40 21/05/2013

Relevant offers

League

Southland Rams boost rugby league's profile despite Waikato defeat Kieran Foran's ex-partner could be key witness in NRL investigation James Maloney’s magic record across three clubs not a coincidence Young gun Kalyn Ponga keeps options open as Kiwis vie for his services Cooper Cronk stars in 300th NRL game as Melbourne Storm reach NRL grand final Melbourne Storm to face Cronulla Sharks in NRL grand final Recap: NRL preliminary final - Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders Todd Greenberg keen to see Kieran Foran's NRL return Sharks prop Andrew Fifita defends his support for killer mate Johnathan Thurston's amazing act of kindness overshadowed by foul-mouthed spray as Sharks send Cowboys packing

Melbourne Storm's stunning transition from the basket case of Australian sport to rugby league powerhouse has reached another milestone with their sale to a private consortium.

Less than three years after the Storm were stripped of two NRL titles for rorting the salary cap, chief executive Ron Gauci officially handed over the reigning premiers on Tuesday to their new owners.

New Zealand entrepreneur and new chairman Bart Campbell heads a group of Melbourne and Australasian businessmen called Holding MS Australia, who have bought the club from News Limited.

Gauci's successor as chief executive, Welshman Mark Evans, aims to have the club breaking even within four to five years.

Gauci has mixed feelings about handing over the reins to Evans - sadness that his time there is over, but massive pride at what the Storm have achieved on his watch.

When Gauci became chief executive on July 21, 2010, it was billed the toughest job in Australian sport.

Now the Storm are the reigning NRL premiers with membership approaching 15,000 and they are aiming for 20,000.

If the Storm can reach their membership target, it would place them in the NRL's upper echelon for membership numbers, with South Sydney the league leaders both on the competition table and in member numbers.

The Rabbitohs have more than 26,000 members, while Brisbane - the NRL's last remaining club owned by News Ltd - had just under 19,500 at the beginning of the season.

Gauci said the club has completely turned around from the dark days of 2010.

"What was the biggest story in 2010 from a negative perspective became the biggest story in sport from a positive perspective only two and a bit years later," Gauci said.

"To be here today, knowing full well that we've achieved well ahead of schedule this landmark day, of course I take a lot of pride in that.

"I'm not surprised at all - when you have the right ingredients around you ... you shouldn't be surprised with the success that comes your way."

Gauci said the team's pride and strength, plus the strong financial backing of News Ltd and the NRL's determination to have a successful club in Melbourne, had him confident back in 2010 that the Storm would bounce back.

"All we had to do was put together - as Craig and Frank (coach Craig Bellamy and football manager Frank Ponissi) have done on the field - a strong team off the field," Gauci said.

It represents the end of an era for Melbourne, who had been a News Ltd club since their inception 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, the Broncos do not expect News Ltd's sale of the Storm to impact on them.

Ad Feedback

Their chief executive Paul White said he was not expecting any change in the current ownership of the six-time premiers, who are now the last remaining NRL asset of the company which once ran Super League.

"They (News Ltd) have consistently communicated back to us they have no plans to change their share holdings," White said.

The other members of the consortium that has bought the Storm are likely to be revealed at a function in Melbourne within a fortnight.

- AAP

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who is your pick for international league player of the year?

Shaun Johnson

Jesse Bromwich

Sam Burgess

James Graham

Greg Inglis

Johnathan Thurston

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content