15 Mar 2012

Chiefs to stay in Waikato?

7:55 am on 15 March 2012

It appears likely the Chiefs will stay in Hamilton next season after news emerged of a bid from a local consortium for the Super Rugby franchise.

Last week the NZRU announced there had been five expressions of interest for its new investment model but Waikato wasn't among them - the union's acting CEO Paul Shattock admitted they couldn't afford it, saying they were in no position to bid for the Chiefs and he couldn't rule out a move away from Hamilton if that's what the NZRU decided was best.

Taranaki was among the bidders and there was speculation they were after the Chiefs - though that union's chairman Lindsay Thomson then moved to quash that notion, signalling their bid was more about keeping the flag waving for Taranaki as a future Super Rugby base.

Now it's been revealed that a private push for the Chiefs from an as-yet unknown Waikato-based group was one of those five bids - although the consortium's still working to raise the capital required by the NZRU of a half million dollars in working funds, and a million dollar bond.

Chiefs CEO Gary Dawson admits there were fears his side may have been taken away from its home base but it appears set to stay.

Dawson wants more afternoon games on Saturdays and Sundays to get a bigger gate, and he believes the current financial model, where profits are siphoned off among the member unions, is unsustainable as it's impossible to build up any investment capital in the good years.