Newcastle Thunder’s spot in League 1 next season has now been cemented after the RFL approved a change of ownership to bring an end to ‘bleak’ months of work behind the scenes to keep the club going.
Thunder were relegated from the Championship in the season just gone, and in October made public the news that they would be withdrawing from League 1 back in mid-October, citing huge financial woes.
Since then though, having received a positive initial grading from IMG, fundraising has taken place to ensure that wouldn’t be the case, and that come 2024 the North East would still have a club competing in the ‘professional’
The club earlier this month confirmed that head coach Chris Thorman would be sticking around with the team to remain at their Kingston Park home.
And Thunder too – provisionally – were included in the release of the fixture lists for both League 1 & the 1895 Cup, set to host Hunslet on March 17 in their opening league game.
Newcastle Thunder receive green light from RFL for 2024
Earlier this week, Thunder posted that they were still waiting for RFL approval on their ownership change, but they didn’t have to wait much longer, with it coming this morning, as posted on the governing body’s website.
The RFL wrote: “Following the submission of necessary details and documentation by the new ownership group – a budget, playing and operational details, and confirmation that Thunder will continue to use Kingston Park for their home fixtures – the RFL’s independent Board were pleased to approve the change of ownership this week.”
RFL Chief Executive Tony Sutton said: “In confirming the RFL’s approval of the change of control of Newcastle Thunder RLFC, and therefore welcoming them to League 1 for the 2024 season and also the Challenge Cup and the 1895 Cup, we also congratulate Keith Christie (Thunder chairman), Jordan Robinson (Thunder General Manager) and the many other passionate rugby league supporters in the North East who have made this possible.”
Meanwhile, Christie himself acknowledged the tireless work that has gone in behind the scenes at Kingston Park over the last few months to make this a possibility.
He added: “This is fantastic news for the club and I’d like to thank everyone who has enabled Newcastle Thunder to get to the start line in 2024.
“Things looked pretty bleak just three months ago but the groundswell of support for the club and the outstanding work of a number of volunteers has resulted in today’s announcement.
“We would like to thank the Rugby Football League who have been very clear in the conditions that would need to be met for our re-admittance to the professional ranks.
“They have assisted us as much as they could and that support along with the considerable efforts of our volunteers, fans and sponsors has resulted in us having a season to look forward to in 2024. There’s plenty more hard work to come now to ensure we are competitive next season.”