Crusaders prop Mark Bryant has said that the club’s players feel like they have been “kicked in the guts” following the club owners’ decision to withdraw their application to play in the Super League for the next three years.
Speaking to Wrexham.com the Australian player, who has been with the Crusaders since 2009, said that players felt that they had been left in the dark regarding the decision and that many were owed money by Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts.
He said: “We all turned up to training as normal on Monday morning, then at 11am Iestyn Harris walked in and said that he’d found out that we hadn’t been awarded the license.”
“As far as we were told, even up till Sunday by the CEO (Rod Findlay), the club definitely had a license and everything was fine, then all of a sudden it looks like the club’s owners have pulled the pin.”
“I’m feeling a mixture of anger and disappointment, we’ve all been left in shock.”
Bryant told us that most of the players wanted to see out the season with the Crusaders, however were seeking assurances from the RFL that they will definitely be paid for the remainder of the year, before making any decision over whether to play.
He also disputed Crusaders Chief Executive Rod Findlay’s claims, made at a fans forum last night, that he had guaranteed that all players would be paid for the remainder of their contract, Bryant said: “Rod Findlay told the players that we were only guaranteed pay for the next two months, so we’re waiting for assurances that we’ll be paid till the end of the year, which is what is stated in our contracts.”
“There’s a few of us owed a lot of money, approximately £400k from pension deductions dating back several years. The payments had started, but they go into the next couple of years and no-one at the club would give us any assurances that they would continue if the club was no longer in the Super League.”
He added: “When we came to North Wales we wanted to start afresh and have a new lease of life, but it’s no different from when we were in South Wales. It’s bad for Rugby League, bad for Wrexham and bad for the fans who have been so supportive since we heard the news. It’s the final chapter in a really sad story.”
Mark Bryant also told us that he had found an as yet unnamed new club in the wake of the announcement, but feared for his team mates, he said: “I’ve got a new club lined up which will be announced in the next few days, so in a way I’m lucky, I’m owed a hefty amount of money, but some of the other guys have not been so lucky and are tied into long contracts with nowhere to go.”
He also said that he would be seeking assurances over £3,500 worth of flight tickets he recently bought to fly home to Australia, which Rod Findlay had told him would be covered under the terms of his contract.
Meanwhile fans of both the Crusaders and Wrexham FC have demanded a public enquiry into the running of the clubs in messages posted on Twitter.
Politicians have also joined the public outcry, including Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for North Wales Llyr Huws Gruffydd, who has demanded that the clubs’ owners “come clean” following the last minute withdrawal.
He said: “The news of the withdrawal is a complete bolt from the blue and has stunned fans, players and coaching staff alike. It’s a disaster for all sports fans in the North. The impact of the withdrawal is a huge blow to rugby league’s development in Wales.”
“This news also jeopardises plans by the Wrexham Supporters’ Trust to buy the football club and Racecourse ground. The owners of Crusaders have a lot of explaining to do for the lack of transparency in dealing with the fans, their employees and Superleague.”
“I would urge Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts to come clean about their intentions and for urgent intervention by Wrexham Council to ensure the Racecourse is maintained as a sporting stadium for the North.”
A statement released by the Wrexham Supporters Trust also reiterated calls for clarity stating:
“Following the sad news yesterday about the Crusaders, we are now publicly calling upon that the owners of Wrexham FC to confirm that the Club and the squad that they have assembled during the close season is supported until the proposed sale is completed.”
The trust also denied allegations made by the clubs owners that they had been the cause of any delay in proceedings, they said: “The owners have been aware from the outset that this deal could not be completed until the end of July at the earliest. They accepted this proposal in full knowledge of the time they were likely to conclude the deal and were fully aware that the Trust could only progress in the same time scale. The owners were well aware of their need keep the club going until the deal is completed.”
How do you feel following the Crusaders owners’ decision to withdraw their license application? Let us know in the comment box below.