Newcastle faces the prospect of being evicted from their home ground with Hunter Venues issuing the club a notice of default for $792,000 in outstanding rent.Just five days out from their first home game of 2009 at EnergyAustralia Stadium, the Knights have confirmed they owe money and have until the end of next month to settle the debt.
But the Knights are refusing to pay and instead claim Hunter Venues owe them more than $1 million for maintenance and compensation due to the stadium redevelopment.
In an extraordinary move, Knights chief executive Steve Burraston went public with the negotiations because he believes Hunter Venues leaked the default notice to the media, breaking an agreement for private negotiations which have been ongoing since December.
Burraston recorded a video message to sponsors and fans on the club's website to reassure them that the club was still operating "business as usual''.
"We are of a belief that Hunter Venues owes the Knights money and we're of the understanding that we were still negotiating and would be for at least the next two months,'' he said.
"To receive the default notice was a surprise, but the breach of confidentiality by putting this in the public arena through the media is extremely disappointing.
"We have been in negotiations since December on not only this issue but also outstanding monies we believe Hunter Venues owes the Newcastle Knights.
"Our claim and invoice is for in excess of $1 million, a greater amount than the claim Hunter Venues has on the Newcastle Knights.
"As of our last meeting on the 23rd of March we were of the understanding we had two months to further negotiate these issues before any action would be taken.
"One can only guess at what games are being played, I don't want to speculate.''