The holding company of Gateshead Thunder is set to be wound up, casting doubts over the future of the club.
Thunder, who survived relegation from the Championship last season, lost head coach Steve McCormack to Barrow this week, after the Scotland boss resigned amidst uncertainty over the north east clubs future.
Chief executive Rod Findlay is working hard at resolving the clubs problems, heightened by the news that main investor Steve Garside is to withdraw from funding the club.
A statement read: “Gateshead Thunder‘s holding company, Gateshead & Newcastle Rugby Limited, is to be wound up following a shareholder dispute. However, Gateshead Thunder still survives and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“The shareholding dispute has been well documented and minority shareholder, Steve Garside, has decided to call in his directors loans and to wind the club up. The staff are powerless to affect this position. However, they have acted quickly to prepare a survival business plan. This is based on the excellent community, commercial and player development work that has occurred in 2009. Many sponsors have already pledged their support for the club in 2010.
“The business plan is based on realistic financial projections but the club will hold a Pledge Meeting in the next 2 weeks to gauge the level of support from fans and sponsors alike.
“We have met with the RFL who would like to see the club survive. However the RFL is being responsible with the sport’s funds and will want to be assured that Thunder can play a genuine role and that the club can generate its own revenue before committing central funds available to all clubs and before approving the business plan.
“This club has a genuine future. In 2009 we saw average attendances increase by 60%; we have increased revenues and we have seen the number of sponsors increase. The players and coaches have been applauded for their success in 2009 but it is now time to recognise that this club has come on a long way off the field too. That forms the platform to relaunch the club.
“If ever there was a time for the North East to get behind the club this is it and many people have already declared that they will.
T”he date and venue of the Pledge Meeting will be announced shortly. The purpose will be to publicly launch the proposal and to seek pledges for season tickets and for shirt and player sponsorship. That will allow Thunder to guage the support and fine tune the business plan.
“Chris Hood has met with the locally based players – both existing and potential. Even through the obvious disappointment of the holding company being wound up the players have all shown a desire for them to continue to play a part on Thunder’s development if possible. Player development has been a key issue for Thunder in recent seasons with the establishment of an Under 18 team and an Under 16 training squad. Thunder is now placed to reap the benefits of that and the youth performance plan is an even more vital cornerstone of the club’s strategy.”