Bennett says he's staying put at Knights

Wayne Bennett said he would see out his term as Knights coach, even if Nathan Tinkler had to relinquish ownership of Newcastle's NRL club and hand the reins back to members.

Bennett is one year into a four-year deal he brokered with Tinkler shortly after the embattled tycoon took control of the Knights early last year.

The Australian Taxation Office has moved to liquidate eight companies linked to Tinkler, including the Knights, the Newcastle Jets A-League A-League club and their parent company, the Hunter Sports Group, as the ATO seeks more than $3 million in unpaid tax.

The matters are listed to be heard in the Federal Court in Sydney on February 20 and 22, but an HSG spokesman said "any outstanding sum will be paid as soon as possible, well before the reported hearing on the matter next February".

There has been speculation about Bennett's intentions since Fairfax Media broke the story yesterday, but the seven-time premiership-winning coach said today that he was committed to the Knights and "it is not my intention to bail on anything that I am committed to".

Bennett answered questions from members and fans in an exclusive "Knights Insider" interview emailed to Knights members today.

Asked by @kemblacoxy via Twitter, "Are you worried about Nathan Tinkler's finances? Will you bail on the Knights if they are returned to members?", Bennett said:

"First of all, Nathan's business is separate to me and the football team.

"We are football people and there has been adequate precautions taken for all of that. Nathan of course has our full support. Secondly, it is not my intention to bail on anything that I am committed to and I am committed to the Knights."

A $20 million bank guarantee that underpins the deed of sale HSG and the Knights signed on August 5 last year provides a safety net for the club if Tinkler defaults on the terms of that agreement.

Asked by @mtweet80 via Twitter: "Wayne, have you been paid this month?", Bennett responded: "Yes I have thanks, just like every other month I have been here."

Bennett and Knights players and staff are paid on the 15th of the month but because that date falls tomorrow, payments are due today.

HSG and the Knights Members Club agreed on Wednesday night to change HSG's audit reporting date from tomorrow to January 21, as well as extending the $20million bank guarantee from December 31 to January 31.

The Newcastle Herald

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