Wakefield Trinity Wildcats – A Fan’s view

Continuing last week’s series I spoke to Landscape Manager Phil Townsend from Wakefield. Phil, 43, is a former WiSCA Chairman.nnHow do you think the RFL will view your bid?nWith difficulty! Wakefield are a paradox – a modestly successful club, with deep roots, an excellent community department, but a poor stadium – currently. We are not alone in the stadium being a problem but it is clear that the game, and we as supporters, want and deserve better facilities. Whilst I accept that there is always more that could have been done, I am more aware than most (as spokesman for SWAG – the Stadium Wakefield Action Group) of the frustrating speed with which these matters move. The one thing we have achieved is that the local authority now desire a stadium as much as we do – for this reason we remain optimistic that this will happen – and that this will be within the timeframe for the second round of licences.nnWhy do you think Wakefield should be included?nBecause we have remained in Super League for 10 years and don’t believe that such an artificial process should be used to remove existing members. Because our crowds have grown significantly in recent years and because Wakefield is a ‘City’ with a RL pedigree – with the game embedded in everything good about the place. We have had our ‘scrapes’, but we are now solvent; significantly ‘British’ and competitive. Many of the ideas used by our community department have been replicated by the clubs around us – which must mean that are leading the way in these areas. nnWhat will Wakefield will add to Super League?nWakefield is a giant of RL – and we are waking from our slumbers. Average crowds of 10k are very much attainable – indeed I would argue that our crowds are remarkable – given the existing facilities. Wakefield’s contribution to SL will be to continue to be competitive; to improve the strength of our squad; to improve the quantity and quality of British talent coming through and be genuine contenders for the big prizes.nn nnWhat do you think of the other teams’ bids?nI hope that the RL authorities will see this is as ‘positive’ exercise rather than a ‘culling’ process. As a supporter of the game I believe that we have a superb product and that we are all victims of the power of soccer in this country. With the odd exceptions, most clubs with modern Stadia have them by virtue of Soccer. The traditional, non-soccer areas – Saints / Leeds / Bradford / Wakefield (all 3 clubs) etc – are not so lucky and have to find support from elsewhere, which is not so easy, and I would like to see more done by the RL to assist it’s own members in this task. Going back to the question – it seems to me that the problem is that the 12 clubs should remain in SL – with 2 new names added. It appears that there are 3 strong cases for admission – Celtic / Salford / Widnes – but I don’t believe any of them, at this stage, are so strong that they warrant ‘replacement’ of an existing club. nnWho do you think the RFL will choose?nMy information suggests that the RL are really keen on getting Celtic in. Personally, I would wait 3 years, but give them notice of their inclusion – funding even – so that they can continue to grow and develop as a business but, at this stage, I would choose Salford and Widnes ahead of them. If Celtic take one place, and it comes down to a choice between Salford and Widnes – phew, that’s a tough one to call. nnWhat do you think will happen if you don’t get in? nI daren’t even think about it. Let’s say it did happen – bearing in mind we play in the Challenge Cup semi-final within the week – that game would be so ‘pumped’ with energy it would be unbearable. From the moment any club were told of their non-inclusion, players and agents would be going mad trying to sort things out, any club would be in turmoil and I would hope that this will have some bearing on the outcome. We currently have around 25 players contracted for next year and about 15-20 for the following year; we have never been so forward with our planning (thanks to Steve Ferres firstly and John Kear latterly), but most of these would be nulled if we lost out – I just couldn’t imagine it! nnDo you agree with the whole process?nYes and no. I agree with the desire to drive the game forward – on and off the pitch, but I think the process is totally flawed and, for me, the biggest surprise would be if one or other clubs didn’t end up in the courts arguing over the decision. The 10 point system is poorly considered and extremely arbitrary, take the ‘contribution’ point – why 8th; why 3 years; or the ‘turnover’ point – why £4m; for goodness sake, they even changed the values during the application process!!!! Some clubs, us included, could even argue that the levels have been set directly to catch them out – how ridiculous is that from the governing body of a game when it is it’s own members it is dealing with!nnWho would you like to see get a franchise?nAs said earlier – the 12 plus 2 newbies – Salford and Widnes. I really do support the idea of the Welsh licence – I just think it’s too soon and there is not enough structure there – yet (based on what little I know). I think if we have the 12 plus 2 scenario it will be regarded by most as ‘consolidation’, and that this will be generally accepted. If any one existing club were to lose out there would be war – just as there was in ’95 when Wakefield, Widnes, Featherstone and others missed outnnWould you like to add anything else?nWe, Wakefield, have accepted this process as a challenge. The timescale and scoring process has been a weapon for us to use to negotiate with the local authority to get a better deal for the club and the City. We love Belle Vue, for it is our home, but we understand it’s limitations – all I ask is that those who have been fortunate enough to receive the benefits of having a soccer club in the vicinity or, as in the case of Warrington and Widnes, to have more understanding local authorities, show some consideration for the plight of those who have not been so fortunate. nnThe best of luck to all applicants – and to those handed the job of evaluating them. I hope they can find the right balance!nnFinney’s final thought: Phil makes a strong case for Wakefield to stay in the top division whilst recognising the club’s limitations and pitfalls. If the RFL do take every club on a level footing then Phil, and other Wakey fans, will be in for some sleepless nights. If Wakefield do not get a place in Super League, I, for one, would not want to sit on the council, who some Trinity supporters feel are backing Castleford’s new stadium over their’s. I think Wakefield will stay in Super League, but will be at risk of being replaced in 2012 if they fail to deliver their promises.

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