Leigh confirm they only have nine players fit for Championship Shield final

Leigh have confirmed they only have nine fit players but are poised to play the Championship Shield final to avoid a misconduct charge.

The Centurions face Featherstone Rovers in the Championship Shield final at the LD Nutrition Stadium on Sunday in what will be there last game of the season.

But the game might not yet go ahead due to them only having nine fit players at the moment. The Centurions have released a statement explaining a number of issues regarding the game, injuries and debts.

The statement started: “To date, no investors have expressed an interest in the club and therefore the board continue to attempt to reduce its liabilities to protect its future.

“The board is liaising with all club stakeholders, including several remaining players, in order it can meet its ongoing obligations. The board has also corresponded with Leigh Sports Village and is awaiting a response from this key stakeholder.

“Any alleged relic debts to them remain disputed, not unpaid. It has also met with its MP Jo Platt and the RFL President and Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham in a bid to assist but has not had a response to two pieces of correspondence further to the meeting.”

Leigh head coach Kieron Purtill was only able to name 13 fit players as they were beaten at Dewsbury Rams last weekend, and Leigh have hinted in the statement that they didn’t want the game to go ahead.

It continued: “In relation to the Dewsbury Rams fixture (30 September 2018), we can confirm that concerns were raised with the RFL regarding player welfare after the board were made aware that due to unprecedented injuries, the club would only be able to field 13 players.

“After expressing our serious concerns, the RFL confirmed that the club had to fulfil this fixture as it had sufficient players under Operational Rules.”

The Centurions are undergoing a big revamp at the moment after it was revealed that owner Derek Beaumont would be stepping down from his role at the end of the season.

And the board offered the players and staff new deals but on lower terms.

The statement read: “As part of the restructure, the board had offered current players and staff a deal in an attempt to ensure that all players and staff could be paid from available funds, explaining that the players/staff agreeing to such deals would take priority on payments.

“The board continues to liaise with players to attempt to resolve the current situation. The club can confirm that with the exception of the six players who have not accepted an offer, all personnel on field and off field were paid in full and on time. Rumours to the contrary are wholly incorrect and unfounded. Furthermore, the club is committed to immediately pay out any further offers that are accepted. The club can also confirm that two players, having received their payments in full on Friday have left the country without authority and were selected for the Dewsbury fixture.

“The club also points out that against Dewsbury four of the six players who haven’t accepted the Club’s offer played in that fixture with the other two being injured. At no time has any player refused to play for the club, save for the two players having gone absent without leave having been paid in full. Once known the club could not make the play-offs and therefore sustain its contractual liabilities it immediately acted to attempt to ensure the club’s short and medium-term future. At the same time, it ensured that the coaching team had a squad of 25 players for the remainder of the season by adding three players on loan from Hull KR plus one from Huddersfield Giants along with some trialists ahead of the RFL registration deadline.

“After doing this the coaching staff were confident that the squad was strong enough and deep enough to complete the season and indeed win the Shield that it was left playing for.Unfortunately, the club has faced unprecedented injuries and the position has worsened after the Dewsbury fixture.”

The Centurions have confirmed that they only have nine players available for selection for the Championship Shield final this Sunday, with the possibility of three more after fitness tests.

It explained: “At the time of writing the club only has nine players available for selection for the Shield Final against Featherstone Rovers on Sunday 7 October with the possibility for three more to be declared fit after a fitness test on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, injuries are a common part of rugby league and cannot be predicted. Indeed, we lost two players during the game against Dewsbury and it is a concern of the club in its duty of care to its players to enter into a professional fixture with nine players, two of whom are amateur players.”

And club have been told by the Rugby Football League that they will face a misconduct charge if they do not play the game at Featherstone.

It read: “To this end the club has sought clarification from the governing body and has been advised that if it doesn’t fulfil the fixture with its nine available players it will face a misconduct charge.

“The club cannot put itself in a position of facing a misconduct charge and the potential of a significant financial penalty so finds itself in between a rock and a hard place.

“The club chairman and owner have both spoken personally with the RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer in a plea to find some common sense as there is a genuine concern for player safety along with the potential for a hostile situation being created should further injuries occur during the game causing it to be abandoned when people will have travelled and paid their hard-earned money to gain entry to the game.

“This is an extremely disappointing position that the Club finds itself in and one that simply cannot be avoided. The Club has also offered medical evidence in relation to the injuries. The Club apologises profusely to its fans for the situation it currently finds itself in. A further statement will be made the week after next once the playing season has been concluded for all clubs.”