Exclusive: New Wakefield owner Matt Ellis outlines major investment plans to establish Trinity as Super League mainstays

Aaron Bower
Wakefield Trinity Belle Vue Alamy

The Be Well Support Stadium, home of Wakefield Trinity - Alamy

New Wakefield Trinity owner Matt Ellis has pledged to spend the money required to get the club back into Super League in 2025 – and has warned he will not stop there, saying second-bottom is not good enough from now on.

Ellis has agreed to take full control of his boyhood club after completing a takeover deal that was finalised last week.

It means the boyhood Trinity fan, a multi-millionaire who owns a successful kitchen business, is the man tasked with taking Wakefield back to Super League after relegation last season.

But he has his sights set on much more than merely promotion.

Love Rugby League has exclusively spoken with Ellis in an in-depth, two-part interview, the first time the new Wakefield owner has broken his silence to the media on the takeover.

He said that while promotion from the Championship is the immediate goal, he does not intend to simply return to the top-flight and make up the numbers, with a pledge to spend the full Super League salary cap and beyond via marquee players if they return in 2025, coupled with a greater spend than Featherstone’s salary outgoings in the Championship this season in 2024.

Ellis said: “The ultimate goal is Super League and when we get back into Super League, second-bottom simply isn’t good enough anymore.

“When me and Daryl (Powell) are there, we’re looking at the top six.

“The bonuses in Daryl’s contract aren’t for staying in Super League, they’re for winning Super League titles and Challenge Cups.

“It’s 60 years since we were the best team in the country, I’ve never seen it and there’s a whole group of supporters that have never seen it. That needs to change.

“Second-bottom isn’t the aim, third-bottom isn’t the aim: we want to achieve something.

“It’ll be tough, as the Super League clubs are well established and we’re behind them on lots of things but I believe we can turn that around.”

Incoming Wakefield owner to invest in excess of £1m in 2024

Ellis also revealed how he invested £250,000 of his money this season to secure mid-season signings like Luke Gale and Josh Griffin in an attempt to secure Super League status.

He will invest in excess of £1million next year in an attempt to make Trinity the Championship’s standout team.

“Next year, it will cost me over a million pounds of my own money because that’s to build the squad and progress with some of my new ideas – in reality, it’ll probably be £1.4million or £1.5million with all the stuff off-field we’re going to be doing, too,” he said.

“Ultimately it wasn’t enough last year, investing the £250,000, but going down might not be as bad as people think, as bizarre as it sounds.

“If we’d stayed up we’d be behind the curve for next year so it might be tough to recruit.

“We’ve got about 13 players signed for next year and all 13 of them will be excellent Championship players.

“We’ve a budget to fetch in another 12 players probably, and they’ll be good quality players.

“The budget we’ve got is competitive; I’ve heard what Featherstone have spent this year and we will spend more than that. Quite significantly more than that too, because we want to bounce back first time and be ready for Super League.”

Daryl Powell the ‘right appointment at the right time’

Daryl Powell with Wakefield Trinity crest Daryl Powell is set to become the new Wakefield Trinity head coach

Ellis admitted he wants to emulate Leigh’s success in recent years by assembling a squad that can not only be successful in the Championship, but in Super League too – and says that new head coach Daryl Powell is the ‘right appointment at the right time’.

“As a Wakefield fan it wasn’t enjoyable watching him succeed at Castleford but over there, you knew they’d be a top six club under Daryl Powell,” he said.

“A bad year for them was finishing fifth or sixth.

“They always managed to replace players and improve and that’s where we want to be, improving every single year leaning towards things like cup runs and play-off appearances.

“Leigh did their recruitment really well, where they started building in the Championship for Super League and we’re going to try do the same.

“It’s going to be a bit of a mix; we need to get some pace in the team because you don’t get nilled six times if you don’t have a problem with pace and breaking the line.

“There’ll be some players coming in who we hope can step up with us, and there might be a couple of older heads who come in with the task of getting out of the Championship.

“If we’re in Super League in 2025 we’re going to spend over and above the cap, because the next five years are massive. Daryl is signed on for four years and we want to target these four years to get the club back where it belongs.

“I think Wakefield have been looked down upon a little bit. I’ve met a couple of agents and got the feeling we’re looked down upon but that’s going to change, I promise the supporters that.”

Matt Ellis plans to hold talks with Mark Applegarth about his future

Ellis also admitted Powell plans to hold talks with outgoing coach Mark Applegarth about his future, with it up in the air whether he remains at the club in 2024 in a different role or looks for a new challenge away from Wakefield.

Powell will also be given a budget to bolster the backroom staff at Wakefield, with Ellis set to invest off the field, as well as on it.

“I built up a great rapport with Mark Applegarth and when that winning run started we discussed the possibility of working together going forwards,” he said.

“But I had the conversation a week ago to confirm that once relegation had been confirmed, I’d started speaking to Daryl, but we’ve got on so well.

“He’s a class bloke, the way he’s taken it has been very dignified but at this time we needed that experience of Daryl to come in and reshape the entire club.

“Daryl and Mark are speaking to each other later this week, and whether he’ll be part of it is still to be decided. We’ll wait and see the outcome of that.

“There’s a bit of pressure on me as owner now, but I wanted to bring someone in that gives the club huge experience in Daryl, come in with a bit of a bang and get the smiles on the faces of supporters once again.”

Part two of our exclusive interview with Ellis details his plans for the club off the field, the future of Trinity when it comes to IMG’s gradings his plans for the supporters.

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