The immediate future of Leigh Centurions has been saved thanks to intervention from the Rugby Football League.
The financially stricken club limped along after previous chairman Arthur Thomas was forced to cease his backing in May and announced total debts of £144,000 at a recent Fans Forum.
Staff and players went unpaid for September as the Centurions crashed out of the Co-operative Championship Play-offs.
It is believed that around £40,000 of the debt was owed to HM Revenue and Customs who initially rejected an offer from Leigh to pay the balance over a set period of time and threatened to start winding up proceedings.
Speaking after this news was revealed on the club’s official website (www.leighcenturions.com) Centurions Chief Executive Trevor Barton commented, “It’s a massive relief.”
“We always hoped there was a way through but when the Inland Revenue responded and that news made internet messageboards in what seemed like record time, we had a steely determination to find a resolution and let everyone know when we had.” He said.
“A board meeting was called and we mapped things out which included the help of the RFL.”
“I must say, I have nothing but huge gratitude to the club’s Acting Chairman Keith Freer. He has been magnificent and worked morning, noon and night to pull this together. He has negotiated, renegotiated, put plans together, revamped plans and worked so hard. I don’t know how he has pulled it all together.”
“Indeed it would be remiss of me not to mention everyone that has grafted behind the scenes and our staff too who have been superb during all the uncertainty.”
“We have been advanced our moneys for next year and had to have our business plans ratified and agreed by the RFL who will now speak to HMRC on our behalf. While the short term is now secured with everyone set to sign their agreements on Monday and then receive payment on Tuesday, we still need to batten down the hatches. With having our moneys advanced, that leaves us £100,000 down on budget for next season, but we can go ahead with our plans which include a revamped corporate club and incentified season tickets, internet radio broadcast of games, advancement in communication and a number of other areas that the Professional Support Group are looking into.”
“I’m looking forward to the outpouring of expertise and the challenges ahead.”
“Sadly one of the casualties of our predicament is the Under-23 team and while this next year may see us far more frugal, at the same time we hope to have a vibrant coach, a vibrant squad, playing attacking rugby league in the best facilities in the Championship.”
“The board can now go about shortlisting for the coaching vacancy and talking to players. For the first time in weeks we can move forward and it’s so nice to know that we still have a club!”
Leigh expect to make further announcements in due course.