Cougars Desperate to Swell Fan Numbers and its Coffers to Stay in the Game
Keighley Cougars are appealing for £45,000 to keep the club afloat.
The professional rugby league team recently came within hours of going out of existence.
Now the club is looking for supporters to rally round the Cougars and if they can swell the crowds by 400 for their final home fixtures their future is secure.
And Cougars fan Pete Barnes has launched a crowdfunding page to raise funds for his beloved club.
In a joint statement, Cougars chief executive Neil Cullen and commercial director Simon Harrison said:”We are releasing this statement to inform all involved with the Keighley Cougars that we recently came within hours of going out of existence.
“This would have meant Keighley Rugby League, a staple of the Keighley community for 117 years and a place that has brought so much joy to those who have been involved with our great club, would have been consigned to nothing more than memory and the history book.
“The borough of Keighley has a population of over 90,000 people and our average attendances are in the 600 region meaning that only 7 per cent of our community support the club on a regular basis.
“The reason behind this is our now former Chairman, Gary Fawcett, is currently reluctant to sell his shares in the club thus blocking any proposed takeover of Keighley Cougars and causing the club financial hardship.
“As of the 29th June 2018 after paying players contract payments, the club bank balance currently stands at a sum of £34.23.
“This means as an estimate, in order to see out the 2018 season we would be looking at investment within the region of £45,000. This can come as a direct result of investors wanting to invest in the club.
“But more importantly, if our remaining five home fixtures all had an extra 400 people through the gates at Cougar Park then professional Rugby League in Keighley would be guaranteed.
“As the two remaining directors of Keighley Cougars we, unlike others, will not abandon the club in its hour of need and have continued to work hard behind the scenes amongst ourselves and also with our sponsors to raise funds and continue to pay the wages of our players, coaching staff and backroom team.
“The first team squad have been offered a new payment plan of contracts which allows ourselves as directors the opportunity to raise funds and pay all monies owed accordingly and more importantly, on time and in full.
“This new payment plan will not suit everybody and this means we are unfortunately in a position where we have to announce the reason Matty Beharrell and Josh Tonks are unavailable for selection on Sunday is that they have decided to accept offers elsewhere in order to secure their financial status.
“As a club, we would like to thank Matty and Josh for their commitment over the last 18 months and wish them well in their future endeavours.
“There is no malice in their decisions whatsoever and we would like to inform supporters that this is solely down to their personal situations.
“Our Head Coach Craig Lingard will continue to have our support throughout this tough time, as he has since his appointment, and we are grateful that Linners and his backroom staff of Nathan Graham, Paul Royston, Rikki Sheriffe, Frank Levy, Scott Lindsey, James Feather, Liam Bowness, Jeremy Crowther & Joshua Chapman have continued to work hard in preparation for Sunday’s trip to Whitehaven.
"We are confident should the team perform to the high standards we know that they are capable off, we will finish in the top five of Betfred League One and earn the opportunity to challenge for promotion to the Championship.
“However, to allow this to happen and ease the cash flow situation we need financial investment in Keighley Cougars now! The club is part of our town’s heritage, identity and legacy.
“Some people don’t realise that to diehard supporters, such as our own, clubs like the Keighley Cougars are more important than the result of a game or a league position.
“An example of this being the have a loyal band of volunteers who work hard three times a week, helping clean, repair and help us maintain the general upkeep of both our great club and our historic home at Cougar Park.
“As our friends at Barrow said in a similar statement they released earlier today, clubs like ours are about heritage, culture and the blood sweat and tears of a great community.
“The Cougars is part of an identity and heritage we need in our local community but we also know we have a community of Cougars supporters living elsewhere in the United Kingdom and all over the world and we hope these supporters will continue to support us and get behind the club.
“The Rugby Football League have now made it clear to clubs such as ourselves, Barrow and Whitehaven that there is no longer a pot of money available to save these community clubs and although they will support with the advice and professional administration that they are looking for a return on investment for all clubs in the professional game.
“As a club we need to bear in mind that from 2021 that the Super League will be taking over Rugby League and the proposal is that there will be 20/24 clubs forming a Super League and a Super League 2 with those not involved being moved to the National Conference League as an amateur club.
“We need to act now to make sure that the Keighley Cougars can be part of the new structure in 2021 and continue as a professional sports organisation within the borough of Keighley.
"This means that if we lose Keighley Cougars, the chances are that we will never get it back as a professional Rugby League club.”
To donate to the crowdfunding page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/keighleycougars?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socpledgedesktop&utm_content=keighleycougars&utm_campaign=post-pledge-desktop&utm_term=EBNYA5zvP
- News Editor
- Keighley Local News