Wakefield Wildcats are to go into administration on the eve of the new engage Super League season.
The Yorkshire club, one of the founder members of the game in 1895, took the action to avoid a winding-up petition brought by HM Revenue and Customs for an unpaid tax bill thought to be in excess of £300,000.
The appointment of Peter O'Hara as administrator is expected to be confirmed next Monday, just five days before Wakefield's opening Super League match of 2011 against Castleford at the Millennium Stadium.
The Wildcats' directors had asked supporters to raise £500,000 by the end of January in order to secure the club's immediate future but that appeal fell well short of the target.
Wakefield say they are in talks with four potential buyers and the prospect of a takeover would be improved if the club were to emerge debt-free from administration.
It is the third time the Wildcats have averted a winding-up order in the last two years and they are the second Super League club to go into administration in a little over two months after Wrexham-based Crusaders sought protection from creditors in November.
They came out of the hands of administrator Peter O'Hara six weeks later in the hands of a new company and were given the go-ahead by the Rugby Football League's board of directors to start the new season, although with a deduction of four points.
Wakefield, too, face a points penalty for breaching the RFL's insolvency regulations but are aiming to secure their long-term future under new owners and will be hoping the latest development will not do irreparable damage to their bid to land a new Super League licence in July.
In a statement, the club said: "Despite our efforts and those of a number of our fans, we have not been able to secure the funds necessary to pay the amounts due to HMRC and so the company was facing a winding-up petition which would have potentially meant the end of the club that we all love.
"Having run the club for 20 years, we have no wish to see its great history and traditions disappear and so we have no choice but to seek the appointment of an administrator to give the club protection from its creditors.
"We are working with a number of parties who have already expressed an interest in securing the future of the club, its position in the Super League and the benefits that it brings to the local community.
"We wish to see the future of the club resolved as quickly as possible so that the Wildcats can enter the 2011 season with stable financial and commercial foundations.
"With the right ownership and support from the fans and local community, we are confident that the club will have a bright and successful future."
Wakefield had hoped to move into a new stadium in 2012 but plans have been referred to a public inquiry which will force a lengthy delay, casting further doubt over the club's ability to secure a new Super League licence.
With their current home, Belle Vue, failing to meet the minimum standards, the Wildcats are making plans to share Barnsley Football Club's Oakwell ground in 2012 in the hope of moving into their new home some time in 2013.
Another Club In The Mire
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