Catalans Dragons owner Bernard Guasch has hit out at the “meanness and jealousy” in Super League which is threatening the future of his club.
The 60-year-old club President said he had been “stunned” by the attitude of some of his fellow club owners, who are trying to block plans to play fixtures in Perpignan during the early stages of the season restart.
Under French government guidelines the Dragons are allowed to host games at Stade Gilbert Brutus in front of crowds of up to 5,000 supporters and the club had made provisional plans to accommodate season ticket holders and sponsors for a match on August 8th.
However, a number of clubs have objected to the perceived advantage of Catalans playing at home when other teams will potentially be playing triple-header fixtures at neutral venues in the opening stages of the competition’s resumption.
Guasch hit out in an interview in Perpignan newspaper L’Indépendant, in which he said: “We must stop this meanness, jealousy and manipulation.
“The last fixture list has been scrapped because we can play in front of 5,000 supporters. It is very average sportsmanship and I am stunned by these reactions and I ask myself serious questions about our future.”
The matter was one of several issues that led to last week’s planned fixture list announcement being postponed until later this week.
A Super League board meeting will take place tomorrow (Tuesday) where officials hope all issues will be resolved.
Catalans coach Steve McNamara told League Express: “I don’t think this issue is the only thing holding up the fixture list announcement which, quite clearly, is a very complicated process.
“At some stage people have to accept that this competition is not going to be equal, it can’t be. We’ve changed the rules, but we haven’t changed them when everyone has played the same number of games. Some teams have played seven and some have played four. Some teams will be able to play at home behind closed doors; some teams like ours will have to travel more and Toronto don’t get to play at home at all.
“So there is bound to be a degree of inequality for everyone. Each team will have an advantage or disadvantage in different areas. But if we were prevented from playing at home that would be wrong, given the circumstances at this stage.
“Who’s to say that the English clubs won’t be allowed to hold home games in front of small crowds soon? We need to keep that option open.
“We’re all frustrated with the delay, but we’ve got to get it right. Our situation needs to be dealt with fairly.
“Right from the start we said we would do whatever it takes to help get this competition up and running again. We were prepared to move to England, but as things have developed we can now hold fixtures at home in front of a small crowd.
“There are no travel restrictions in place now, the bio-secure documents are all now in place. So why not?”
McNamara was full of praise for his club President’s handling of the situation.
“What might have gone unnoticed because we are out here in France, and most of Bernard’s interviews are in French and things get lost in translation, is the positive way in which our owner has spoken about what we were prepared to do as a club right from the start.
“When the initial fixture list came out we said ‘right, let’s get on with it’ and our Chairman has been so positive.”