Smith: RFL must act on Keighley

A member of the consortium aiming to regain ownership of Keighley Cougars has told the Rugby Football League: “It’s time for decisive action.”

With their scheduled League 1 opener at Whitehaven less than four weeks away, the club remains in special measures and under the controversial control of Austria Holdings. The RFL imposed the sanctions, meaning Keighley can’t make signings or play pre-season matches, after wages went unpaid.

Former directors Mick O’Neill and Mike Smith, who were at the helm during the ‘Cougarmania’ days, when Keighley took the Second Division title in 1994-95 but failed to win promotion to the inaugural Super League, want to buy back the cub.

But a financial offer was refused by Austria Holdings, who must now satisfy the governing body that they can take Keighley forward.

The issue is set to be discussed by the RFL Board on Thursday, and Smith said: “They need to act and act quickly to safeguard the future of the club.

“We remain committed to a takeover, and we have funding and exciting plans to bring the Cougars back to life, but there will be no improved bid.

“We were disappointed and surprised at the rejection, because the current owners could have accepted the bid and walked away, and this sorry mess could have been put to bed.

“The waiting game has gone on too long, and it’s imperative the RFL do the right thing and make sure the future of the club is secured.”

Coach Craig Lingard echoed Smith’s comments, saying: “We have players training and the attitude and commitment has been excellent.

“The RFL have extended the triallist terms so we can continue training, but really we’re still in limbo, because we can’t make any concrete plans until the ownership is sorted.”