Championship Focus: New stadium is a major incentive for financially ‘fragile’ Workington Town

Workington Town directors have thanked players and members of staff who have agreed to a pay cut as they bid to “secure the financial stability” of the 77-year-old club, whose position they admit is “fragile”.

It’s been a tough season on and off the pitch for Workington, who were promoted to the Championship through last season’s League One play-offs but look likely to make an immediate return to the third tier.

With two going down, Chris Thorman’s side went into their Summer Bash clash with neighbours Whitehaven at Headingley rooted to the foot of the 14-team table, having won just one of 20 league matches.

That was by a 32-18 margin against fellow strugglers London Broncos at Derwent Park in June, after which the capital club won three of their next six games to overhaul Whitehaven, who themselves are seven points clear of Workington and four above Dewsbury Rams going into round 21 of 27.

Already working to a tight budget, Workington struggled to bolster their squad for this season, with Thorman recently explaining to League Express: “We were the last side to know we were going up, so were behind the eight-ball in terms of recruitment, and players we’d identified had been signed by other clubs.

“We also had some transition in terms of the boardroom, which perhaps had an effect, and there is the additional factor of our geographical location, which makes it harder to sign part-time players because of the travelling involved.”

To make matters worse, Workington lost the services of winger Brad Holroyd, who switched to Widnes Vikings after scoring 18 tries in 17 appearances last season, second rower or centre Jake Moore, who joined Whitehaven, and back Calvin Wellington, now at Oldham.

With their problems heightened by a six-week gap between home fixtures, the next of which is against Dewsbury on Sunday, August 21, the club referred to an “optional contract reduction for the players and staff” and said in a statement: “Results on the pitch have, as will be understood, had an impact off the pitch.

“Due to the club’s position in light of recruitment decisions coming into the 2022 season, declining attendances adversely affecting matchday revenue and overall cost increases, immediate work has been carried out to ensure the financial health of the club.

“The board is working through a plan that deals with the current issues and moves the club forward.

“Due to the majority of current expenditure being player costs, the board proposed an optional contract reduction that would still give the players adequate remuneration and incentive but significantly contribute towards securing the club’s financial status.

“The response from the vast majority of players and all of the coaching staff has been incredible, and the board hugely appreciates this.”

Workington, who were founder members of Super League in 1996 but have since yo-yoed between the second and third tiers, have pledged to keep supporters updated, and the statement added: “To reiterate, the club is in a fragile position but with the support of staff, volunteers, fans and the local business community, the board are confident of being able to turn the position of the club around and refocus on a sustainable business model for the future.

“There are many positives to work towards, namely a new stadium and the continued planned implementation of many new initiatives around the club.”

The new community stadium, funding for which has been agreed by the Government through its Town Deal pot, will bring Workington’s Rugby League and football clubs together once again.

Town played at Workington FC’s Borough Park, which hosted League football from 1951 until 1977, from their formation in 1945 until 1956, when they built nearby Derwent Park.

The new venue, one of five projects in the Workington area which will benefit from the £23.1 million provision, will be on ‘the footprint’ of Borough Park.

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.