Manchester Rangers withdraw team after League One snub

Ambitious development club Manchester Rangers have withdrawn from their community league after their application to join League One was rejected.

Rangers formed in 2012 and played out of the impressive Manchester Regional Arena, situated as part of the campus at the Etihad Stadium, in the North West Men’s League.

From the off their ambition was to reach the professional game but have seen those ambitions quashed, despite making an offer to purchase the Hemel Stags licence which has since been purchased by the backers of the new Ottawa franchise.

A club statement said: “In January 2019 the previous board of Manchester Rangers decided they were no longer pursuing a professional licence and as such withdrew support and funding from the club whilst giving the full blessing for Manchester Rangers to continue under the current group of players and volunteers.

“A new committee was put in place to try and keep the team running on a smaller scale but despite tireless efforts have been unable to regroup the team over a short period of time.

“Due to a number of logistical issues and a loss of playing members the committee have taken the decision to withdraw from NWML with immediate effect, to give time for all of the requirements of running the club to be met. This is not a permanent withdrawal and Manchester Rangers will return to NWML once this has been put in place.

“This withdrawal will only effect the senior open age side and will have no bearing on our junior section, Belle Vue Bees, or the fantastic work being done developing Rugby League by Manchester Rangers Community Foundation.”

The Rangers board have met with resistance over the past few years that have blocked their attempts to bring professional rugby league to the centre of the city.

They were told their best route in would be to either merge or takeover one of the existing Greater Manchester clubs, such as Oldham or Swinton.

Understandably not keen to go down that road, Rangers instead made an offer to take over the Hemel licence but were knocked back due to the presence of the other clubs around them.

The proposals to Hemel included supporting the continuing development of rugby league in Hemel, who have since struck a deal with Ottawa despite initial claims they weren’t looking to sell their licence.

Efforts to link up with Salford and create a Manchester “reserve” side that could support all the local professional clubs were also turned down.

Having invested almost half a million pounds in what is still essentially an amateur club in nearly seven years, it remains to be seen whether the opportunity for a professional side in the centre of Manchester has now been lost.