Keighley looking to follow Widnes’ 3G pitch lead

Keighley Chief Executive Gary Fawcett is looking forward to visiting Widnes’ iPitch in Challenge Cup quarter-finals as the Cougars are set to install a 3G pitch of own.

The innovative surface at the Select Security Stadium took some criticism since it was laid in time for the 2012 season with some opposition coaches complaining it was responsible for injuries.

But the more durable pitch has brought significant economic benefits which is something that Keighley want to replicate in a planned £5m redevelopment of Cougar Park.

Fawcett said: “We’ve not seen Widnes’ 3G surface in person yet but we’ve done a lot of research into it so it’s funny that we’ve been drawn to play there in the cup.

“It will be a totally new revenue stream for us and because of the extra usage, after around two years, the pitch will have paid for itself.

“Our plans are based around multi-sport so we’re expecting to welcome in all ages of rugby league to Cougar Park plus football and rugby union.

“To facilitate that we’re going to need bigger, more modern changing facilities and we’re going to strip the main stand back and make it a concrete structure rather than wood.

“We’ve got planning permission so we’re in the process of obtaining funds of £1.6m with a view of starting the first phase in October.”

Fawcett is also confident that the Cougars’ progression into the last eight will help to stabilise the club who are one of many fighting against relegation. 

He added: “You don’t make as much as fans would probably anticipate but what it does do is create financial stability within a 12 month window.

“The gulf between Championship and Super League clubs in terms of income is quite significant and the pressure to stay up this season means we’re managing costs very tightly.

“Over a third of the Championship are being relegated and we don’t want to be amongst them.

“Our end goal is Super League and falling into Championship One would knock us back significantly, probably another two or three years at least.”

Championship One club London Skolars are currently playing their home games at the QEII Stadium in Enfield while an artificial pitch is installed at their New River Stadium home.

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