The Eden Park Trust has pledged its full support to chief executive Nick Sautner amid reports in New Zealand relating to court proceedings in Australia.

Sautner has worked at the Auckland venue since 2016, when he was named as general manager of commercial.

The Trust today (Thursday) released a statement clarifying that previous chief executive Guy Ngata had informed the Trust’s chairman, Doug McKay, of the Australian court case Sautner was involved in with a previous employer, arising from his redundancy in 2013.

Newsroom.co.nz reported that Sautner was dismissed from his role at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium for serious misconduct, including trading free tickets for personal benefit. The Trust said today that the report is “not new information”.

The Trust’s statement added that Ngata made “significant enquiries” and advised the Trust’s Board that there was “no reason” to question Sautner’s appointment.

The statement continued: “Once Sautner began his role at Eden Park, it became clear to the Board that he was the model of propriety and had the ability to lead the team after spending 13 years working at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.

“When considering appointing him to CEO, The Eden Park Trust’s Board agreed on an additional full round of due diligence on Sautner. It was mandated that McKay personally contacted the referees who knew Sautner during that period of his life to understand the situation firsthand.

“These referees included some of Australia’s leading businessmen, sports and stadia industry experts as well as the head of the Competition Integrity Department at the Australian Football League (AFL). These individuals were supportive of Sautner and believe he has been unfairly tarnished.

“The details of Sautner’s court case proceedings in Australia are complicated however it has been agreed the allegations do not have any bearing on his role at Eden Park and there was no subsequent action taken in respect of any of these findings, which are a repetition of claims made by his previous employer.”

McKay has also moved to defend Sautner. “Since starting with us, both the Board and I have been delighted with Nick’s drive, work ethic and high integrity,” he said. “Nick’s ever-growing ability to lead our team has been impressive to date.

“It has been especially pleasing to see the community engagement and local relationships Nick has fostered over the last few years. There hasn’t been a single incident which has given me cause to doubt him and unless he proves me wrong Nick Sautner has our full support.”

Image: TimBray