Crusaders RL have signaled their intention for the future as they look to bid for a place in the Co-operative Championship for the 2012 season.
The Crusaders RL club, along with representatives of the ‘Save the Cru’ campaign and Crusaders Supporters Club have come together to issue a joint statement about the future of the North Wales team after they withdrew their Super League licence application.
Over the last three weeks, the ‘Save the Cru’ campaign has had strong support from fans with over 4,000 pledging to get behind a Championship club, signaling that there is in fact demand for the Welsh outfit to continue in the lower leagues.
Head of Save the Cru Campaign, Jamie Thomas said: “Further to the overwhelming support we have received from the local community, it was evident very quickly that a Championship club could thrive in Wrexham. Therefore we have contacted the current management team of the Crusaders with a view to get their help to establish a club for next year.”
Crusaders have also been boosted by the support of Wrexham council and has an outline agreement with Glyndwr University to continue to play at the Racecourse Ground. Further to this, over 200 local companies have backed the campaign by offering support, with numerous firms already agreeing sponsorship packages should the club reform in the Championship.
Chairman of the Crusaders Supporters Club Chris Jones said: “This is just the news we were hoping for. The fans were devastated when the club announced the withdrawal from the Super League and you could see how much the game meant to them by the scenes at the final whistle last weekend at the last home game.
“The fact that we have a chance to rise from the Ashes and see the Crusaders take to the pitch once again in North Wales is a fantastic opportunity and I hope we’re allowed to grasp it with both hands.
“Naturally the Crusaders Supporters Club wants the Crusaders to go forward. Not just for the first team in the Championship, but also to protect all of the community work done across North Wales and the North Wales Crusaders under 18s, who were formed earlier this year.
“There has been a lot of hard work put into developing the Crusaders in 2011 and the goodwill of the supporters was there for everyone to see on Sunday.”
Rod Findlay, Crusaders Chief Executive Officer, explained: “Without ever having played Championship Rugby League in Wrexham it was always difficult to gauge whether or not there was enough support for the Crusaders at that level.
“I met with Jamie Thomas and explained what I thought was necessary and off his own bat he began the Save the Cru campaign. The level of support has been overwhelming.
“I have explained that the RFL Operational Rules provide for a club coming out of Super League to go into the Co-operative Championship. However, the RFL will need to approve a business plan and work starts on the detailed plan now. We have already spoken to the current owners about securing the assets of the club.
“Wrexham Council could not have been more supportive and we have had really productive discussions with Glyndwr University about playing at the Racecourse Ground and developing the existing partnership further.”
Hanna Clarke, the club’s Commercial Manager, confirmed that there was strong support for Crusaders in the business community.
She said: “Even after the Super League Licensing decision, many current and new partners were expressing their support for the Crusaders in whatever guise it took. Obviously the decision to apply for a place in the Championship is a major boost.
“On the back of the decision to apply for the Championship spot, we have already had commitments from new and current sponsors and one has committed to a hospitality box six months before a ball is kicked in anger.”