Featherstone deny Walker stadium claims

Featherstone have assured fans they are not considering a ground share with Super League neighbours Wakefield.

The Wildcats announced plans for a new community stadium off junction 30 of the M62 earlier this week, and trust chairman Sir Rodney Walker implied Featherstone’s involvement in the scheme.

But Rovers CEO Andy Prout said that talks of a ground share, or even a merger, were wide of a mark in a statement addressed to fans of the club in response to the Wakefield press release.

It said: “I would like to re-assure all of you, our members, shareholders and supporters that we have been mis-represented by Sir Rodney Walker during the press conference and subsequent press interviews regarding the new proposed new Wildcats stadium development, and under no circumstances are we discussing or even considering any type of ground share or merger with our Wakefield neighbours.

“I, along with two other members of the Board of Directors have met with the Wakefield Chairman, initially with a view on our part, to ascertain if they would join our stadium development project which would achieve two objectives, provide a solution to ground based issues around retention of their  SL License, and also assist our stadium development ambitions.

“However, it soon became apparent that they had made more progress on planning and development of the Newmarket site than we had anticipated, thus forming a partnership within our plans did not seem to be an option.”

The proposed development of the Newmarket site will include a 12,000 capacity stadium as well as other facilities such as 3G pitches.

Sir Rodney had said he was hopeful of being able to persuade Championship club Featherstone to use the new facility. He said: “We’re in discussions with Featherstone and we would be delighted if they choose to play some of their bigger fixtures at the new stadium.”

The development is essential in the retention of Wakefield’s Super League licence in 2012, following a number of warnings from the RFL to the Wildcats – as well as Castleford, Crusaders, Salford and St Helens – concerning the quality of their facilities.

Last week, St Helens announced that 2010 will be their final season at Knowsley Road before they relocate to a new stadium, while Crusaders’ problems have been solved by a move to Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground.

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