Bears plotting Sea Eagles takeover
A GROUP of high-powered entrepreneurs will align themselves with the Bears to try and commit one of the greatest acts of revenge in rugby league's 110-year history - buying the Manly Sea Eagles.
It is understood the looming consortium bid - which will be backed by the Bears - has been rolling along secretly for several months.
Another meeting is scheduled for this week, possibly on Tuesday, which may include senior officials from Norths. The meeting could prove pivotal.
There is little doubt the famous yet discarded foundation club would enjoy immense satisfaction from buying a club that has overshadowed them for decades.
The businessmen are known to be high-flyers yet immensely private. They are also shrewd, passionate and ruthless. Their identities remain a mystery but they are circling the under-siege Sea Eagles.
It is understood they have been holding in-depth meetings with a number of international business houses in up-market North Sydney to garnish support.
The financially flourishing North Sydney Leagues Club would also play a key factor in any bid.
Norths are still seething after Manly walked away with the NRL licence when the ill-fated Northern Eagles joint-venture collapsed in 2002.
Manly's majority owners, the Penn family, have repeatedly claimed their club isn't for sale.
But dramas on and off the field in recent weeks have drained Sea Eagles chairman Scott Penn. Ironically, the Penn family business is based in the heart of North Sydney.
Penn did not respond when contacted for comment.
There would appear little doubt the Penn family would listen to any offer that is financially attractive.
But it would mean the end of famous Manly after 71 years in existence.
Talks are still in their infancy and Penn would be under excruciating pressure to keep Manly given the public outcry from Sydney's northern beaches should he sell the famous club, logo, colours and history to their old foes.
It would however be a stunning return should the Bears somehow acquire Manly's NRL licence.
Should the Bears return, the plan would see matches played at North Sydney Oval and Central Coast Stadium. Norths would use the iconic Bears logo.
All officials contacted either preferred not to comment or were unaware of what was unfolding.
It is known that the businessmen behind the push would earn a cut if a deal can be secured. Momentum is slowly building.
The bid team hope Manly might sell for between $4m to $5m - but that figure would seem low given the New Zealand Warriors sold last week for $20m. The Sea Eagles are though struggling financially.
No formal business plan has yet been formulated but initial signs show a deal would be feasible.
Bears officials are quietly aware of moves by a consortium but haven't been included yet in the bulk of discussions.
There is also alleged interest for Manly from China, Russia and Qatar.
The Bears recently failed in their bid to take control of the Gold Coast Titans.
Norths have been desperate for a return to the NRL for the past 16 years. The Sea Eagles and Bears have a long and healthy dislike for each other on the northside of Sydney.
Manly has lurched from one disaster to another this year on and off the field. The low points being the Jackson Hastings drama and the salary cap scandal from earlier this year.