Ipswich NRL bid has no links with British billionaire

BIG PLANS: Billionaire Marwan Koukash wants to invest in an NRL club but the model of the Western Corridor NRL bid will likely not suit his plans.
BIG PLANS: Billionaire Marwan Koukash wants to invest in an NRL club but the model of the Western Corridor NRL bid will likely not suit his plans. AAP

BRITISH billionaire Marwan Koukash wants to own and control an NRL club, but the Western Corridor NRL bid won't be one of them if given a licence in 2018.

Mr Koukash, who has invested $5 million in the Salford City in the Super League competition, has made it clear he is keen to invest in an NRL franchise and told News Corp journalist Peter Badel that he wants to be involved in the running of a club but not as a minority share holder.

The QT contacted Western Corridor bid chairman Steve Johnson to ask if the club would have any place for Mr Koukash, if he was interested, in the future.

Mr Koukash has not expressed any interest in the Ipswich bid and his plan is to have a British-based side in the NRL or invest in a club already in existence.

But Mr Johnson has outlined the ethos on which the bid will be based and said the Koukash/Nathan Tinkler-style model "doesn't fit in with what we are trying to do for a community owned club".

"We are not interested in being controlled by someone that doesn't understand the reason why we are fighting hard to establish a club in the western corridor, which is to support our kids," Mr Johnson said.

"You can't sell your soul for cash. You can't have a club that takes care of young people and your community, if the sole vision of that club is winning the NRL competition.

"Our vision for the Western Corridor club isn't just limited to rugby league."

The Western Corridor bid's focus now is on providing indigenous, educational and employment pathways through grass roots programs that are linked with organisations and businesses in the Ipswich region.

The bid has a community-based ownership model like the Green Bay Packers NFL franchise and is confident it will attract the necessary sponsors to succeed. Mr Johnson is not opposed to support from benefactors, but under the constitution of the bid they cannot control the franchise.

Johnson's vision for the bid is that it should be "a strong community member that happens to be an NRL club" while taking advantage of "the halo effect that comes with being an NRL club for the good of the greater community and the people of the Western Corridor".

Mr Koukash has a vision, but it is just not compatible with the Ipswich model.

"His thing is that he wants to control a club," Mr Johnson said.

"In our constitution, unless there is 100% vote by the owners of the club the fundamental moral fabric of the club cannot change.

"The Roosters are a community owned club. Everyone thinks they are owned by Nick Politis but they are not. They are a community owned club with great benefactors like Nick and Mark Bouris."

Topics:  nrl steve johnson western corridor nrl

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