York City Knights are facing severe disruption to their fixture schedule for the latter part of the season, and could find themselves without a stadium in which to play soon.
The Knights have been informed that they cannot play their opening Super 8s fixture this weekend at Bootham Crescent, due to “overuse” of the pitch.
It is unclear if the match with Doncaster will take place at all now. With doubts also in place over York’s forthcoming games against Barrow on August 7 and London Skolars on September 4.
The game against Hunslet on August 21 is apparently okay at the moment.
This could mean that York would be compelled to withdraw from League 1.
The rugby league club has a contract to play games at soccer club York City’s stadium as part of York City Council’s delayed community stadium scheme.
This scheme saw the old rugby league ground at Monks Cross demolished, with the intention being that it would make room for a new stadium which the soccer and rugby league clubs could share.
A spokesman from the Knights has insisted that their agreement allows them to play games on Sundays if they are more than 24 hours after a soccer game.
York City have a friendly at 1.30pm this Saturday, so the Knights have put back their Sunday kick-off until 3.30pm.
York City Council has a separate agreement with the soccer club allowing rugby matches to be staged at their ground.
But the council also argues that it had informed the Knights in May that July 24 would not be a feasible option for them.
Funding for Knights matches at Bootham Crescent comes out of the community stadium budget.
A City of York Council spokesperson outlined the situation to local York paper The Press,
“City of York Council has agreements with York City and York City Knights relating to the use of Bootham Crescent,” he said.
“This use is subject to certain conditions, including whether a football match has taken place the day before and the impact on the playing surface.
“It’s regrettable the Knights can not play at Bootham this weekend. However, they were first informed this would be the case at the beginning of May, well before any (Super 8s) fixtures had been finalised.
“This was subsequently confirmed on several occasions during June and July.”
The Knights, however, refute this version of events, with one of their spokesman insisting that all parties knew since last November that there was a strong possibility of the ground being needed for rugby this Sunday.
“With the contract referring to the 24-hour rule and City playing at 1.30pm on Saturday, we should be okay to play on Sunday – that’s why we asked for a 3.30pm kick off,” he said.
“It now appears the council is suggesting the ground is not available because of over-use but City were aware of our date before they booked three friendlies around this date.
“The email on May 9 only says it was likely we could not play and we never received confirmation. We provided the Rugby Football League fixture dates comments form to both City and the council and no response was received before the deadline of June 30. We only received comments after the fixtures were published by the RFL.
“We have tried to keep to the terms and conditions of the agreement and at our last meeting a few weeks ago the council said it was its intentions to keep to the contract terms going forward.
“The council’s contract with the football club reserves every Sunday throughout the season for the Knights to play home games, so it appears the council have the rights to use the ground but won’t transfer those rights to the Knights, even though it has contributed over £50,000 to ensure the pitch was suitable for dual-usage.”
The Press reports that discussions are ongoing about possible alternative dates.