Leigh Centurions’ situation is rated as critical despite the welcome appointment of Trevor Barton MBE as the club’s acting Chief Executive.
There is still a great deal of work to be done before the club can be considered in a safe financial position that would convince the RFL of their viability as a Super League club.
But work is ongoing to try and attract the right type of investors into the club and to keep the club on track for a Northern Rail Cup and Championship Grand Final.
The Centurions’ disastrous seven days that saw them lose their chairman and main backer Arthur Thomas plus chief executive Allan Rowley, culminated in last Thursday’s first defeat of the season at the hands of Halifax.
And in a no holds barred interview with me on Radio Manchester, Centurions coach Ian Millward highlighted the club’s perilous position.
“I don’t think we should sugar coat it,” he said. “There are some tough times here at the moment.
“We need a lot of people pulling in and making sure there is a club here.
“It’s definitely that serious, and I don’t know why people are sugar coating it
“The chairman has been outstanding with his support of the club, but now we need revenue streams and we need some people, or a group, to step forward
“If the current board can’t do it then they need to move on, but I’m not sure who’s out there to do it so I’m not saying ‘you guys need to go’.
“They tell me about a situation a few years ago where they had to raise £50,000 to save Hilton Park in a few weeks, and I reckon this situation is just as bad.
“This is a great stadium and there is some great things happening in our junior development.
“Seventy five percent of our team are local lads, and Rugby League is a big part of the fabric in the local community here.
“But just when we’re in touching distance of the Northern Rail final and have been top of the league, this happens. Some things will have to be done, because everyone is saying ‘it will be right’, and I don’t see it that way.
“It’s a bit like a house at the moment, a few people might have inspected it but no-one has put an offer in.
“It’s a great opportunity to get on board a train is moving forward.”
The Leigh board did move swiftly to appoint Barton, as an unpaid but fully accountable CEO, and he is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead.
“Financially we are in a tough spot at present,” he admitted. “Collectively we have been made lazy by the largesse of a very generous and fine man, and I include everyone in this, directors and fans.
“But having said this, the challenge that lies ahead is completely do-able.
“We need everyone to take action and if you were thinking of sponsoring the club, then now is the time to do it. If you were thinking of joining LISA (Leigh Independent Supporters Association), then now is the time to do it. We need everyone to rally round.
“At present Ian Millward and myself have meetings arranged with two separate businessmen to secure their long term support, but in the interim we need the big push for LISA members to continue and to thrive.
“In the short term we are studying costs to see where we may be able to make some cuts to square the budget whilst looking for reassurance that local business people will continue to support the club.”
For Sunday’s home league clash with Dewsbury, Leigh will still be without Mick Govin, while Robbie Paul and Ricky Bibey are still out along with dual registered Rhys Evans. But otherwise there will be a full squad to select from, and Leigh will be looking to get back to winning ways in what is a dress rehearsal for the Northern Rail Cup semi final some seven days later.
l FORMER Leigh player Don Platt has died, aged 78.
Don, who also played more than a hundred times for Wigan also enjoyed spells with Batley and Oldham.
His sons Maurice and Alan also played for Leigh.
Don’s funeral will take place this Friday at Howe Bridge Crematorium at 11.30am.