The employment tribunals are full of awards for lost future eaarnings after staff have been sacked.
That's because their contract was violated in some way; they were sacked unjustly or were entitled to a certain amount of notice. None of which applied to Workington.
if you break a contract you have to pay for that mate.
They didn't break the contract and that is why there was no debt. Every work contract has release terms; in the case of semi-pro rugby league players, it is very easy to "sack" employees if you don't need them or can't afford them.
Not a nice thing to happen but illegal in any way.