Featherstone Rovers would like supporters of the club and the people of Featherstone to know and understand our position and how we feel about the WMDC at this time. It was our belief that the Council were keen to share our development plans and that they had finally recognised the club and it's most recent achievements when talking about Rugby League in the district. It was also our belief that the Council shared our vision to assist in the improvement of public services in the town and the greater development that could be born from our plans at Post Office Road. How wrong can you be? The following letter has been issued to those concerned and we wait patiently for a response. We are confident that the RFL understand our plans for the future, they understand and are supportive of our decision not to apply for a Super League License at this time which is more than can be said for those closest to us in this quest. Fans are urged to rally behind the club in our long term aims, the fight will go on to build a club that can make the transition to Super League and we hope that the WMDC will re-consider and offer some fairness to both the club and the Town.
Following a phone call from Andy Warhead (WMDC Corporate Director for Regeneration, Culture and Sport) and Lisa Dodd (WMDC Service Director, Sport and Culture) I have been informed that Featherstone Rovers will not be getting any financial assistance from the council for developing their stadium and facilities. They say the decision was passed by WMDC cabinet members. Help will be given to Castleford RLFC and Wakefield RLFC if they meet the Super League governing body criteria. Featherstone was not in that category as we hadn't applied for Super League.
This decision has shocked the club, as promises had been made by some WMDC cabinet members that all the clubs would be treated with parity. The battle for parity has not just happened over the last 12 months, the writing was on the wall way back in 2007 when Featherstone Rovers were only just recognised in the WMDC Sports Strategy document. Since then and up until now we have had many meetings with the WMDC deputy leader and her colleagues, pushing for fairness and emphasizing that Featherstone Rovers has a glorious history second to none and should rightly be up there with our other two local clubs. Until yesterday I thought that we had succeeded in changing peoples minds. (It seems not)
Our reason for assistance in times of austerity is that the club is the heart of Featherstone and needed the boost to take it forward. Who would have heard of the town without the rugby team? We were advised to work with WMDC, local councillors and business on the regeneration of the town which we have done and even gave the support of our professional project engineer who attended most meetings over the last 12 months. This again shows our commitment to the community. The enhancement of the stadium would have benefited the town as a whole with new up to date facilities for health and education (and doesn't it need it) and in addition provided much needed employment to the town. At present our community work is second to none in the rugby league world and has in previous years won awards for this excellent work.
Our bid for Super League on the back of a magnificent season, coming top of the league, a Grand Final appearance and also nurturing some of rugby's promising local talent did not happen for two reasons:- one that the present size of the ground does not meet SL criteria along with the dilapidated terracing and other safety issues and also the clubs turnover falls below what SL decrees (although going in the right direction, increasing yearly). The Council investment would have gone a long way to kick starting the development. Not only for the club but the town as a whole.
We were told that our letter of application was the best of the three clubs. Where has it gone wrong just to be told that because we didn't apply for SL we're not in the club, where's the fairness in that.
As I have stated we have had numerous meetings at the club and at the council offices over the past three years and I am dumfounded at this decision. What has the world come to when people give assurances and guarantees that there will be parity only to go back on their word?
Because of the hard times we live in and cuts that have to be made I/we could have accepted the decision of no financial support if it had been for all three clubs (even then the two other clubs are financed heavily by SL)
I await a date from Andy Warhead and Lisa Dodd for a meeting, where they can tell the Featherstone board, supporters and the community of Featherstone why?
Co-Operative League Champions 2010
A season dedicated to the life of Gareth John Swift
Together we follow in 'Wisdom & Courage'
Featherstone Rovers RLFC, The Big Fellas Stadium, Post Office Road, Featherstone. Tel: 01977 702386