Championship: Keighley Cougars to force emergency EGM

Keighley Cougars say they now have enough clubs’ support to force an emergency general meeting at the RFL, including some that want to push for a vote of no confidence in the game’s governing body.

They also insist that they will not allow the issue over ineligible dual-registration players to fade away.

And Chairman Gary Fawcett now believes that there are just two possible solutions to the problem – either compensating Keighley and Sheffield financially, or relegating Batley, because of the inaction so far and the close proximity of 2015 fixtures being released.

Fawcett said: “We have more than the required 10 per cent to call the EGM and there are noises about possibly having a resolution that records a vote of no confidence in the board.

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“Clearly, I wished to have the EGM concentrated on the single issue of the disciplinary process and the ineligible player issue, but there is discussion around what the other supporters of the EGM would also want to have as resolutions.

“The calling of an EGM is not just symbolic for this issue.
“It is a statement of intent surrounding the apparent lack of interest from the RFL board in solving this fundamental problem for the sport.

“Since September 8 I have communicated many times with all of the board members, and have only received the minutes of the disciplinary and appeals panel meetings (the details therein which simply reinforced our position) and legal letters stating that a substantive response to ‘so complex an issue’ would be provided on October 17.

“October 17 is an interesting date to choose as the draft fixtures are due for release to the Championship clubs on October 20.

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“The response from the RFL has been that this is a complex issue.
“It’s not. It’s very, very simple – two ineligible players were played on July 27 in two Kingstone Press Championship games and the two clubs responsible were not punished.

“I don’t think you could get a simpler issue in sport.
“The first possible solution is that the three points deductions are reinstated. Batley are relegated and Keighley are confirmed as the twelfth Championship team. And the RFL pay Keighley damages so that we can build a competitive Championship team for the 2015 season (the damages will be less than option two). Sheffield move above Doncaster and receive their rightful distribution for 2015.

“Option two is that the three points are not reinstated and Keighley receive damages from the RFL (much greater than in option one) and Sheffield receive £25,000 extra distribution next season.

Gary Fawcett
Gary Fawcett

“We have offered the RFL a without-prejudice meeting and we have asked the RFL lawyers if they will go to arbitration. Both have been flatly refused.

“The EGM will go ahead because it is the members’ responsibility to solve a problem that the Board are either not able to solve or do not care about solving.

“But I would like to request an independent investigation – the investigator to be appointed by the members – into the Batley and Doncaster disciplinary and appeals process that occurred in and around the panel meetings on August 14 and 28.”

The RFL has responded to the Cougars’ criticism by issuing a statement to League Express.

“Whilst we understand Mr Fawcett’s frustration at what he perceives is a lack of progress on his club’s grievance, it should be noted that the RFL has co-operated fully with the legal process instigated by Keighley Cougars,” said the RFL statement.

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“Prior to Keighley Cougars seeking legal redress, the RFL did offer to meet the club to discuss the issue, but that offer was declined by Mr Fawcett.

“Keighley Cougars also had an opportunity to raise any concerns they had, and debate potential outcomes, with both the RFL and the other Kingstone Press Championship and Championship One clubs at the Championships Clubs Forum held on Wednesday October 8.

“Mr Fawcett declined to take that opportunity and there was no suggestion from the other clubs of support for this latest course of action by Keighley Cougars.

“The RFL is continuing to show due diligence in all aspects of this case and our legal representatives remain in contact with the club’s legal adviser, Richard Cramer.”