Fresh crisis at Keighley

Keighley Cougars are in crisis, with players claiming they and members of staff are still waiting for the payment of wages.

There is speculation about the future of general manager Steve Gill and coach Craig Lingard, both of whom are said to be considering their positions at the League 1 club.

Simon Harrison and Neil Cullen resigned as directors last month, while club ambassador Garry Schofield had earlier departed Cougar Park.

Former Castleford Tigers chief executive Gill arrived in July following a takeover by offshore investment portfolio company Austria-Holdings.

They bought the club after Gary Fawcett quit as Chairman in May.

Before the takeover, the 142-year-old club came close to folding amid a reported £45,000 worth of debt, and Lingard lost a string of key players as contracts were redrawn in a bid to cut costs.

The player-drain has continued since the end of the season, with Harry Aaronson and Jose Kenga (both to Swinton Lions) and versatile Ritchie Hawkyard (to Oldham) the latest to leave.

And Hawkyard revealed: “A number of times we were told we would be paid, but nothing materialised. Then we are sent cheques, but these either bounced or were cancelled.

“It’s tough on the players, because this is money we are owed and have budgeted for, and it’s tough on the fans, who deserve to know what’s going on.

“As a playing group, we continued to attend training and play matches when we would have been within our rights not to.

“Quite a few have left the club. From my point of view, enough is enough, and I have now signed for Oldham.”

Harrison added: “Neil Cullen and I resigned as directors because we didn’t have the backing of the new owners and were not in a position to carry out our duties.

“To blame the old regime for leaving unmanageable debt, with more hidden debt now emerging, is wrong.

“We had an executive committee that witnessed the extent of the debt on a spreadsheet prepared by Gary Fawcett, highlighting all the debts, current and future.”