A STUNNING development in the Toronto Wolfpack saga has seen the backers behind the proposed New York franchise enter takeover talks to buy the club.
It can be revealed that a consortium, fronted by New York founder Ricky Wilby, has held extensive discussions with Wolfpack officials with a view to purchasing the troubled club.
David Argyle, the current Toronto owner, is looking to sell the club after being forced to withdraw it from this year’s competition due to growing financial challenges.
Players and staff are now owed two months pay and Argyle has admitted he is currently unable to free up money to pay his employees.
Talks are believed to have advanced quickly over the weekend, with Wilby confirming their interest when contacted by League Express.
“It’s certainly something of interest and we’ve spoken extensively with the Wolfpack management team,” he said.
“Subject to completing our due diligence, it would certainly be an avenue we’ll be exploring and increasing our interest in.
“It’s something both us and the Wolfpack would like to conclude quickly.”
It’s almost certain their purchase of the club hinges on the franchise remaining in Super League next season. It’s thought the RFL will host a meeting today (Monday) to discuss Toronto’s participation agreement, with the prospect of them being removed from the top-flight set to be debated.
That said, there is a growing belief that they will be kept in Super League next year. It’s thought that a private equity deal Super League is currently negotiating would be aided by a North American franchise being involved in the competition, which is a huge factor for clubs and Super League chief executive Robert Elstone to consider.
But the bid to buy the club is genuine. It’s believed the consortium has agreed to pay this year’s wages and take on all the debts the club has stacked up since their inception as part of the deal to purchase the club.
Argyle has spent in the region of $30 million Canadian dollars in just over three years but there is still significant debt to be cleared.
It’s understood a second prospective buyer, believed to be at a British rugby union club, has also shown interest in buying the franchise.
Their interest certainly presents more questions than answers. New York were due to enter League 1 in 2022, but it is unclear how their interest in Toronto affects those plans, or whether they plan to relocate the Wolfpack to the Big Apple. Purchasing the club would certainly save the significant cost of having to climb the leagues.
Talks are due to continue this week.