Despite having a new stadium approved at Newmarket in time for 2015, Wakefield chairman Andrew Glover is far from relaxed about the club’s future.
The man responsible for taking over the club in it’s time of need ahead of last season says the club still has a lot to do in order to secure it’s future in Super League.
Despite the positive news coming out of the Rapid Solicitors Stadium, Glover insists the hard work begins now as they prepare to put together a strong Super League licence application in 2014.
He said: “Because we have a Grade C license we are going to be under full scrutiny from the RFL. We have to get our turnover to £4 million, and we will only have £3.2 million this year so we are under the requirement at the moment.
“We have still got to sort out a five year lease for where we are now, which we don’t currently have. We are at very advanced talks with our landlord for that now, so when we do our application we have a lease for where we are now and we have a future for where we are going.”
Glover explains that despite expecting to move into the new stadium in time for 2015, the Wildcats will need to have secured a suitable base in case the new stadium meets delays and is not ready for the start of the next licence period.
He said: “The stadium won’t be ready for when we apply for Super League in 2014. When we submit the application in March, and all that’s happened with the new stadium is that the sites been cleared, we still have to be able to show that we are secure.
“So there is still a lot of work to do before we can say we are safe and that we have a licence. In reality there is no reason for the RFL not to give us a licence, whereas last year the club had the disadvantage of administration. That was the biggest area of worry for us was that was massive black mark on us. We won’t have it for this franchise period, so it makes things a lot easier for us.”
Glover has turned the Wildcats from being a financial wreck into one of the fastest growing clubs in Super League, certainly in terms of attendance figures.
Wakefield attracted close to nine thousand supporters for their home match against Hull FC, and Glover claims the club has a 30 per cent growth rate.
It was an unimaginable scenario 18 months ago, when everything was going wrong for the Wildcats. The club had entered administration, and looked favourites to be kicked out of Super League with inadequate stadium facilities and a black mark on their finances.
But with the Welsh club Crusaders withdrawing their application in the final hour, Wakefield survived the chop and the club began a rebuilding phase which has seen them grow into a much better condition.
Glover explained: “Off the pitch last year we started in February. Obviously the calendar year started very badly for the club, but it only took us six months to get our feet on the ground after the take over because there was so much to learn.
“I know a lot of the staff stayed on from the previous company but everything we did was different, meaning effectively everyone had to start a completely new job. Not just because of the new company they were working for, but also what they were doing was totally different. We are doing things differently to how it used to get done.”
With the club turning a corner and the news of a new stadium being provisionally approved by the Secretary of State, the Glover predicts the Wildcats can look forward to a positive future next to junction 30.
Like Warrington when they moved into their new home in 2004, the Wildcats could go from mid-table and league cellar dwellers, to challenging for the sport’s top honours providing they can get their the financial security.
Not that silverware is on Glover’s mind at the moment. He is more concerned about keeping the club alive, and making sure the people of the City of Wakefield have a rugby league club to support in the top flight.
He said: “We have, effectively, security forever by moving to the new stadium.
“If you look at the licensing side, that is a massive box ticked. Now that we don’t have to worry about the stadia side of the licensing we have the opportunity to turn the club into a profit making business, which allows a business to trade as long as you keep working hard at it. It does add a huge amount of security.
“The stadium is going to be owned by the Wakefield and District Community Trust, so it will be effectively owned by us anyway. It will be cheaper to live there than what we do at the moment because we do pay a massive amount of rent at the moment.”
However Glover explained that the new stadium has only been provisionally approved, and that there are certain conditions that have to be met before building can start on the 12,000 capacity stadium.
During the stadium announcement last week, it was mentioned that the stadium could have the plug pulled unless certain questions were answered about the Newmarket Development.
Glover is fully confident the issues will be settled, and explains what else has to be done before a mid-August deadline by the developers Yorkcourt Properties.
He said: “The main and most difficult condition to get through is the fact the developer has to sign a 106 Agreement, which is them agreeing to pay for it under the enabling development.
“That couldn’t be signed before planning permission because it was pointless. It had no bearing on anything until the planning permission came through. We did speak to Yorkcourt and they are still completely comfortable with everything, and all of the filed paper work is being drawn up now so that will be done within the two month period they have to have it done for.
“There were other conditions that we had to agree to but they were all questions that the inspector had previously asked, so it’s just basically formalising all the conditions. They just have to sign them off and get them done.
“The other thing is we have to put in full planning now, which we are basically ready for anyway so that will be done within the timescale as well.”
Glover and Wakefield will no doubt want to see silverware occur over the long term. But for now the focus is on securing the future of the club, and seeing the Wildcats progress from having been docked points after entering administration, to becoming one of the healthiest clubs in Super League.