British billionaire Marwan Koukash bids for Gold Coast Titans
Contact via Email
Follow on Twitter
British billionaire Marwan Koukash has emerged as a prospective owner of the Gold Coast after becoming the latest player to bid for the Titans.
There has been intense speculation that a fourth party has joined the race to buy the franchise, alongside the North Sydney Bears, Brisbane Bombers and the Rebecca Frizelle-Darryl Kelly consortium, although the identity had been a heavily guarded secret.
Share on Facebook SHARE
Share on Twitter TWEET
Cup runneth over: Marwan Koukash at the Melbourne Cup parade in 2013.
Cup runneth over: Marwan Koukash at the Melbourne Cup parade in 2013. Photo: AAP
However, Fairfax Media can reveal the mystery moneyman is Koukash, whose net worth is estimated at $3 billion.
Koukash is already known to Australian sporting fans, having previously brought horses Down Under to compete in the Melbourne Cup. He also expressed an interest in buying the Newcastle Knights, but the NRL – perhaps wary of handing the keys to another self-made multi-millionaire with a penchant for horses after the Nathan Tinkler debacle – instead handed control to the Wests Group.
Koukash, until recently, had another rugby league club on his books. The Palestinian refugee saved Salford from financial ruin when he bought the Super League battlers in 2013. The Red Devils have since come back into the top flight, narrowly avoided relegation in last season’s “£1 million game” and earned a top-four finish in 2017, a season where they also reached the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
However, there have been a string of controversies on Koukash’s watch. The racehorse owner has been involved in a number of disputes with England’s governing body, the Rugby Football League, including the deduction of six competition points for salary cap breaches last season. His outspoken views have also alienated some Salford fans, whose attendance numbers at home ground AJ Bell Stadium have diminished in spite of greater success on the field.
Koukash pointed to the poor crowds as one of the reasons for pulling out of the Red Devils and handing control to a community trust late last month. However, his interest in the Titans appears to be another motivator for the shock move.
Koukash declined to comment on his Gold Coast bid when contacted by Fairfax Media.
League HQ Newsletter
Get the latest news and updates emailed straight to your inbox.
It has been reported that some of the interested parties are prepared to bid about $10 million for the Titans licence. While the consortium led by former board members Frizell and Kelly remains the favourite to take charge, Koukash has the financial means to blow the other offers away.
The NRL already has colourful private owners at some of its clubs, most notably Oscar winner Russell Crowe at South Sydney.
However, nothing compares to Koukash’s story. He was just eight years old when his family farm in Palestine was bombed, forcing his mother and seven siblings to walk three days without food until they crossed the River Jordan, where they spent years in a refugee camp.
By offloading Salford, Koukash will be able to direct all of his energies towards the Gold Coast.
“It’s time for the fans to have more of a say with a new era at the club and a team of trustees who have a long-standing association with Salford,” Koukash said via a Salford press statement on Saturday.
“I truly believe that this is how the club will grow. This is only a sideways move and my family and I will continue to be involved as avid supporters and I am happy to be on hand to offer whatever advice and guidance to the board of trustees.”
The NRL wants to get the Titans off its books by October 31, although the management plans to make a call on a new coach before then.
Former South Sydney mentor Michael Maguire has stated he won’t consider replacing Neil Henry if he doesn’t know who he will be answerable to.
Maguire is one of the leading contenders alongside Broncos assistant Jason Demetriou and former NSW coach Laurie Daley for the role. It is understood the drawn-out process has put some of the candidates off as the club plans to make an appointment by the end of the week.
Last i remember, the NRL told them that they had no plans for a second Brisbane team. I thought it ended there.
Im pretty sure at one point the club were seeking legal advise on the matter in 2011-12, and im assuming more pressing legal concerns popped up. So maybe this got put on the back burner.