With 18 days until their first home game of the season, the fans of homeless York City Knights have taken drastic action to try and ensure a viable future for their club.
An online petition titled ‘We the undersigned ask for your assistance to enable the removal of John Guildford from York City Knights‘ has been launched and has already amassed 815 signatures in a week.
The petition states: “This is important due to the public damage JG is doing not only to the club, but to Rugby League in York, the surrounding districts and North Yorkshire. His reluctance to change and lack of action is putting the short and long time future of the club in grave danger. Also with a new stadium on the horizon, and the possibilities for Rugby League in North Yorkshire with the backing of a professional well run business, it is paramount that this opportunity is not missed due to the actions of one individual.”
The petition follows a recent statement released from the Knights supporters that stated:
“It is with great frustration that it has come to this, but the supporters feel that John Guildford’s position as Chairman of York City Knights is clearly no longer tenable.
For a number of years now Mr Guildford has constantly changed his stance on the community stadium project, at first refusing to attend meetings at all before complaining of being left in the dark, to then creating his own stadium dream, then fully supporting the project, before finally coming full circle and once again objecting to this fantastic facility.
Throughout all these times the supporters of York City Knights have backed Mr Guildford, believing that he had the club’s best interests at heart, however over the last few months it has become increasingly clear that sadly, this is not the case.
On February 19th 2015 the Knights Independent Supporters Society (KISS) held an open and public forum with City of York council with regards to the Knights’ involvement in the stadium project, despite pleads from the ‘new board’ to cancel the meeting with promises of good news that subsequently never materialised. Mr Guildford’s continuing erratic behaviour – refusing to acknowledge KISS as a group, wrongly and libellously accusing KISS members of misappropriating monies raised by the group, and blocking lifelong supporters and sponsors of the club from the Knights official twitter account, only further demonstrates to us that he is no longer competent to run this club, a club that in the right hands has such huge potential.
The council were open, honest and approachable throughout the meeting which divulged as many details for what appear to be a fantastic deal for the Knights, all information they were happy to share in the public domain. It quickly became increasingly apparent that the only person to ‘lose out’ in the project was Mr Guildford himself, as the Knights would no longer need to rent an office from his construction company, and he would have less control of the Knights income from food & drink outlets.
It has also since come to light that despite promising to refrain from interfering with the stadium project completely, Mr Guildford is continuing to kick up a fuss with the City of York council planning department as recently as 11th March, emailing Nadine Rolls with concerns about Bats(!) and Kevin O’Connell about material matters that he knows have been fully considered.
The conspicuously quiet new board must wonder what they have themselves in to, trying to negotiate a return to the table for the Knights while the Chairman simultaneously tries to sabotage the whole project. If Mr Guildford of course carries through with his empty threat at Clifton Park last Sunday of ‘shutting down the club this Friday (20th March) I’m sure the businessmen on the new board won’t be impressed to have such a black mark on their record. Imagine how James Ford, his coaching staff and his players must also feel with that threat hanging over them as they prepare for a crucial Ladbroke’s Challenge Cup tie tomorrow night?
An online opinion poll on the KISS Facebook page this week asked if Mr Guildford should resign, the votes counted 41-1 in favour within 24 hours. A small representation of course, but around 10% of last Sunday’s gate against Newcastle nonetheless. A game that Mr Guildford was happy to play at a below adequate amateur rugby park (nonetheless a fantastic facility for amateur rugby and thanks must go to York RU for all their help). This alone completely undermines York City Knights as a supposedly professional Rugby League club.
Thanks for your efforts over the years Mr Guildford, but it is time for you to go. Please do so before your ego lets you kill this potentially great club.”
Matters reached breaking point when Guildford submitted a 29 page objection to the planning permission to the new community stadium in York the evening before, and spoke out at a crucial City of York council planning meeting. The project was unanimously approved despite this.
Details of the online petition can be found here: http://bit.ly/SaveYCK