Crusaders Chief Executive Rod Findlay said that the club faces one of four scenarios following their decision to withdraw the club’s license application to play in the Super League for the next three years.
Speaking at a forum at the Centenary Club attended by over 50 concerned Crusaders and Wrexham FC fans at 5.30pm this evening Mr Findlay said that the club now must choose between the following four options:
* The Crusaders cease to exist
* The club plays in the Championship, one division below the Super League
* The club plays in the Championship One, two tiers below the Super League
* The clubs plays in either the Championship or Championship One, but moves away from Wrexham
Mr Findlay said that it was time for ‘soul searching’ regarding the future of the Crusaders as he displayed a dejected resilience. For the club to remain viable in the Championship he estimated that attendances of 1,500 to 2,000 would need to be maintained and that club bosses would seriously need to look into the viability of it before making any decision.
Explaining the club’s shock decision to withdraw their Super League license application Mr Findlay said that discussions between the club and RFL were held over the course of Sunday and Monday, and that following several stress tests on the club’s business plan, and on the advice of external accountants, Crusaders’ owners Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts made the decision to withdraw the license application.
He said: “Every aspect of our application, except one, was very strong and we were the first club to submit in March. However, the one part which wasn’t so strong was the financial side.”
Mr Findlay claimed that as a result of falling attendance figures and failure to attract commercial revenue, along with the club’s remaining historic debt, it was difficult to be sure of the club’s viability in the Super League. He said:
“We couldn’t guarantee that the club would’ve seen itself through the license period and it wouldn’t have been right to plow on so on Monday we made the decision.”
He described how the club’s owners had looked for investors to help bridge the shortfalls faced, however found none, he added that to proceed “would have embarassed us and the sport”.
However many fans strongly felt that the owners would have known of the doubts surrounding the viability of their application even several months ago due to low attendance figures. Also they demanded to know why there was no confidence management in that fans hopes of being successful in receiving a license were raised by club statements which made suggestions to that effect. Concerns were raised too about a lack of stock in the club shop throughout the season.
Crusaders club shop staff that we met said that much like the players they were only told of the decision to withdraw the license application just minutes before the announcement was made.
When fans raised the matter Mr Findlay stated that both himself and the owners were under instruction by RFL laywers not to inform players and staff of the decision until five minutes before the license announcement was made.
He also said that claims of being owed money by the club, made by several players on Twitter, related to historic pension deductions from the club’s previous ownership which are owed to seven players and being paid off on a monthly basis. He added: “Players have been and will be paid what they are contractually owed and are still under contract.”
Earlier in the day Crusaders player Keith Senior claimed that as a result of the club’s decision not to apply for a Super League license his contract was now null and void. Mr Findlay admitted that many players do have such a clause which allows them to terminate their contract should the club not remain in the top division, however added that he hoped they would finish the season with the Crusaders until they can find a new team.
One question which remained unanswered is what effect the license withdrawal with have on the RFL’s debt charge of 700k currently secured against the Racecourse Ground, the Crusaders chief-executive would only say that he was certain it would not lead to any foreclosure on the debt.
Mr Findlay also stated that Glyndwr University were, as yet, not close to buying the ground so with regards to the 25 year lease held by the club they were not in a position to negotiate.
The effect the license withdrawal will have on Wrexham FC also remains unclear, however from what he said it does not appear that sale talks are near completion as yet, which will worry some fans with player wages and a tax bill due towards the end of the month. Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts have previously stated that they are unwilling to inject further money into the club.