The Swinton board of directors have stepped down after receiving threats of violence following the announcement that they were to re-brand the club to Manchester Lions.
After one of the club’s best seasons in recent memory, it was hoped that the club could kick forward in 2020 under the Manchester brand, as the board sought to protect it against the uncertain central funding context of 2021 and beyond.
But fans and councillors opposed the move, and that has now come to a head.
In a statement, the Swinton board said: “As custodians of this great club over the last two years, we are proud to have delivered financial stability and a platform for the most successful season of the last 21 years on and off the field.
“It’s been well documented of the Board’s intention to build a truly sustainable model that will see the Lions thrive in a time of seismic change within the sport.
“The response to the change of the playing name to Manchester Lions has been significant. There has been resounding support but, as expected, equal opposition.
“On the point of opposition, as a Board, we have to expect criticism and challenge. However, the behaviour of a number of fans has been appalling, including threats of violence towards Board members. That does not belong in any club and is shameful.
“Opposition was fuelled by the actions of the Mayor of Salford and Councillors of Swinton & Pendlebury releasing a letter objecting to the Board’s plan. The Board met this with an open mind, responded with request for an urgent meeting, but to date had no reply.
“Following the Board letter to the Swinton Lions Supporters Trust asking for its position we have, to date, not received the formal support of The Swinton Lions Supporters Trust. As such we take this as a ‘Vote of No Confidence’ in the plan and the Board itself.
“Finally, it saddens all members of the Board that their integrity and motives are questioned. We collectively contribute substantial time, money and resource to make this club the best it can be, for the club. Most of all for enjoyment and the family culture. This has unfortunately gone.
“Having assessed all of the above, It is with regret that the Board of Directors of Swinton Lions RLFC Limited resign their position with immediate effect.
“This afternoon we will ask The Swinton Lions Supporter’s Trust to form a succession plan to take the club forward.
“As a collective we have agreed to help with succession planning and Stephen Wild has agreed to remain as sole Director on an interim basis until a new board is formed.”