OIdham allay ground fears


Oldham chief Chris Hamilton has moved to allay fans’ fears that Whitebank Stadium might not match up to proposed new minimum standards.
The Rugby Football League (RFL) want to bring in legislation demanding that from the start of the 2012 season every club in the Championship must have a minimum ground capacity of 3,000 with seats for 500.
Whitebank currently falls short on both counts, but Hamilton is “optimistic” that, in the event of Roughyeds winning promotion to the Championship this season, they will still be playing at their new home on the edge of Limehurst Village in the higher tier next year.
“If all parties work together we should be able to meet the prevailing conditions,” said the Oldham chairman, who has been talking to RFL officials on this issue over the last few days.
He will represent Roughyeds at a meeting of clubs next Tuesday to discuss RFL operations director Ralph Rimmer’s call to raise the bar on ground standards in the Championship.
There will then be another meeting of clubs on March 1 when the ‘Rimmer Report’ is expected to be ratified.
Eventually, Roughyeds intend to meet fans — as well as residents who live close to Whitebank — to keep them fully updated on this major issue.
“We support the proposals and we’ve no problem with minimum standards,” added Hamilton.
“However, it’s important for people to know that permission for us to play at Whitebank in the first instance was granted in two parts.
“The first was to carry out work that had to be done before we played any matches there last season. Part 2 was an agreed schedule to keep on improving the facility and eventually hitting minimum standards.
“It’s been frustrating for us throughout the close-season this time because we were hoping to use that window to do more substantial work.
“It hasn’t happened, simply because the legalities of completing the purchase of land are not yet finalised, and we can’t be signing deals for improvements until they are.
“Once that is done we will be making application to the Rugby League Facilities Trust for various kinds of assistance. We have already had meetings with them at the ground.
“We hope everything will be resolved soon and that the work will be done throughout the course of the season.”
The plan includes putting in terracing down the Whitebank Road side of the ground.