CARLO LiVolsi has four days to convince Super League he is the man who can genuinely save Toronto Wolfpack.
That means producing a ‘robust’ business plan showing what he will do with the Canadian club if they are allowed to stay in the top flight – and, above all, proving he has the money to do it.
The businessman has promised to right the ‘disgusting’ and ‘dishonest’ actions that have burned many of the Wolfpack’s bridges over recent months.
He says he will pay all owed wages to players and staff – four months’ worth totalling more than £500,000 – and look to settle all other outstanding debts.
LiVolsi also claims to have produced an 80-page document detailing his aims and what he feels he can do if he is allowed to take over Toronto.
But with a Super League board meeting likely to decide their fate on Friday, the time for talk is over – now he has to prove it.
And that may mean producing full profit and loss accounts for the several businesses he is involved in to convince boss Robert Elstone and clubs, many of whom doubt they are worthy of readmittance.
SunSport understands Toronto, who feel they should now receive a handout of central distribution like every other club, feel they have produced everything that was asked of them and they presented all the additional information they were asked for on Tuesday.
Yet doubts remain over LiVolsi’s claims and projections – a hard and fast business plan that can pretty much withstand anything, not the Covid-19 pandemic that has hit every company around the world – needs to be produced.
So far, senior figures are not certain they have seen one, although clubs are likely to be given much of the information before Friday’s vote and extra information is set to be presented then.
Toronto boss Brian McDermott is thought to have been in regular contact with contracted superstar Sonny Bill Williams after they pulled out of the 2020 Super League season.
Several others have publicly backed calls to let the Wolfpack back in, with prop Darcy Lussick personally addressing Elstone and club bosses, saying, ‘our livelihoods are on the line and in these times it’s impossible to get employment.’
However, it is thought Elstone is still seeking answers over a long-term strategy over both Toronto’s and rugby league’s plan for the North American market.
No trans-atlantic sports competition has yet succeded. The NFL has wanted a London franchise for years but so far has not made the maths work.
And after David Argyle promised much but ended up delivering missed pay cheques and bills at a side that pulled out of a season, Super League does not want to be caught out twice.
So far, no TV deal has been struck on the other side of the Atlantic and there is no definitive proof of cash benefits to having Toronto in there.
Clubs themselves have a range of feelings, from ‘I wouldn’t go anywhere near them,’ to not letting them back in would be ‘rampant self-interest and totally short-term and another big nail in our coffin long-term.’
One club chief told SunSport: “It will be shameful if the new owner is prevented from paying up the Toronto players because some clubs don’t want him in.”
However, another executive said: “Trans-atlantic sports don’t work. If the NFL can’t do it, how the hell can we?
“We hadn’t invested time and energy into preparing the North American market. It takes a five to 10-year strategic plan to achieve it.
“Not just some bloke who claims to be a millionaire, so let’s do it.”
LiVolsi, whose businesses are all in the beauty and grooming industries, believes he can turn the Wolfpack around, providing they stay in Super League.
He said: “The way the club has acted is disgusting. It’s unfair to the players that have worked hard, who have families and have rent to pay that they can’t even get paid.
“If we’re given the opportunity, things will be much different. They will be treated like family rather than outcasts – there’s no excuse for not paying your bills.”
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