Paul March: Incident blown out of all proportion

York City Knights coach Paul March has revealed his anger over his suspension and five others at the club over an alleged incident at a function.

March said that the behaviour of he and the others has been completely overblown by the club, who handled the situation badly.

The coach – who will not remain at York next season – believes there may be an ulterior motive to the suspensions.

The club alleged an incident involving March along with four players – brother David March, Paul Hughes, Rob Kelly and Danny Ratcliffe – along with director of rugby James Ratcliffe.

They men allegedly arrived drunk to a function at Leeds Rhinos versus Bradford Bulls, and heckled the guest speaker, for which they were given a one-week suspension.

Danny Ratcliffe was handed a five-week suspension, supposedly for writing on a tablecloth at the event.

“Come Wednesday we had an e-mail saying that we had all turned up drunk, that there had been some heckling of the guest speaker and that someone had written on a tablecloth” said March.

Happy with behaviour

“To be honest [the tablecloth incident] is a childish thing to do, but to give someone a five-week suspension for it is a childish punishment.

“Regarding the turning-up-drunk allegations, we were happy with the way we behaved that night, and the supporters were there with us.

“If it was just the players turning up drunk and carrying on people would have looked, but the spectators were there and knew exactly what we were like.”

The Knights lost 49-36 away at Blackpool Panthers, and are currently fourth in the Co-operative Championship division one; a win would have left them in second place.

“The suspensions are harsh and I don’t know if there’s more to it than [chief executive] John Guilford is saying”, continued March.

“I’ve heard people saying that the club doesn’t want to get promoted because of the money situation, and I don’t know whether that’s it, but suspending five of our starting thirteen had a massive impact on us last week.”

Blown out of all proportion

“Then coming out and saying that my coaching contract won’t be renewed is sending the wrong message out at the club. It’s all been done in the wrong way.

“It’s been blown out of all proportion, and it should have been kept in-house, because it wasn’t a big thing. They should have taken the people involved aside and said what they wanted to.

“Instead the press got hold of it, and that’s how I found out at first: when a reporter phoned me and told me I’d been suspended.”

March said he disagreed with the apology issued by director of football James Ratcliffe last week, adding that he hoped the further his coaching career elsewhere next season.

“I know James Ratcliffe has apologised publicly for the offence but I don’t really agree with that because it makes us look guilty, and as far as I’m concerned everybody behaved as they should.

“Yes some people had a drink, but they weren’t drunk to the extent that they were behaving badly.

“I’m sure other clubs will be interested, and hopefully I can look after the players as well. There will be positives come out of it, as long as we can get another club.
“I know there are a limited number of jobs, but hopefully I can get another one and continue my coaching career.”  

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