Crusaders Chief Executive Rod Findlay called on the rugby league family to rally and support those affected by the club owners decision to withdraw their application for a Super League Licence for the 2102-14 seasons.
As a result of that decision, the club become the first to lose its place in Super League under the club Licensing system introduced 3 years ago.
The club had been active in recruiting its 2012 squad and had spent the first half of 2011 recruiting to its off field staff in anticipation of another 3 years at the elite level. Those players and staff now face an uncertain future.
The RFL acted quickly to assist the club in ensuring the staff were all paid on time and also offered overseas player and club trained dispensations to those displaced. Some players have already secured contracts at other clubs.
Findlay has now called on the sport to ensure that everyone else affected overcomes the current situation.
“Rugby league rightly prides itself in being a family sport and I hope that other clubs are able to offer a lifeline to the players, coaching staff and off field staff. I appreciate that every other club has its budgets to work within but I would hope they would consider the Crusaders players and staff first when looking to recruit.
“Crusaders have a really strong team – on and off the pitch – and it would be a shame to lose them from the sport. In a recession jobs in other industries are limited.
“I am grateful for the RFL offering assistance to the players. However there might be a temptation to use the dispensation to bring in overseas players that weren’t otherwise going to be in the competition if other clubs had thought of bidding for a Crusaders player before the dispensation was granted.
“As a family sport we have a moral obligation to minimise the human impact of the licensing decision. We should only look at bringing in new players once those expecting to play for Crusaders in 2012 have found a new home.
“If a club is looking to recruit a prop, assistant coach, physiotherapist or marketing staff, for example, I hope they think of the Crusaders staff first. I would vouch for all of them and I’ve already tried to help some players and staff.
“Crusaders don’t have the biggest team and if the whole sport joins together I’m sure we can minimise the human impact. My main priority at the moment is ensuring people get paid what they were expecting and then securing alternative employment. That would be a great news story for the sport and everyone can play their part.”
Crusaders have 2 more home games this season and Findlay was also sure the fans would show their support.
“Crusaders have a really loyal following and I’m sure they will want to show the players their support. The bus to the away game at Wakefield sold out after the licensing decision. The final home game against Hull FC – moved to 3pm on Sunday 21 August – will be a massive game now. All the revenue from ticket sales goes towards paying the players and staff.”