Club almost went bust due to debt as players paid late, statement reveals

With the news in the past week of League One side West Wales Raiders set to fall out of the league system it’s been revealed by a Championship club that they almost went under during the 2022 season, as rugby league continues to feel the effect of the current cost of living crisis.

Whitehaven RLFC released a statement offering fans an explanation as to what has been going on in the background of the club and it makes tough reading as they reveal the financial hardships they’ve gone through, with the side almost going under at points.

Haven are one of three prominent sides in Cumbria alongside Barrow and Workington and it’s potentially a combination of that competitive market on top of the effects of the pandemic that have seen the club go so close to going bust.

A statement on the side’s Facebook page announced the update.

“Dear fans, We wanted to try put you in the picture of how the ‘off season’ has been going for us.

“Ashley, charlo and Jonty have worked tirelessly pulling a team together on possibly the smallest budget in the league, to lose any of the team they have built was never our plan, but we have to do right by the player as-well as ourselves.

“During the off season you will have seen 3 events organised – we organised these to help us generate much needed cash flow – for all three events we didn’t get in to double figure sales resulting in them all having to be cancelled. This isn’t us having a go at you fans this is us trying to explain.

“Contracts run until October games end early September it’s obvious to all cash flow would be an issue. None of the other bills stop either ie HMRC, PAYE, gas, electric we could go on.

“As a board the clubs future is paramount and we will admit we came close to closing those gates for good with a big cut in RFL and debt from the 2020/2021 financial year, but with directors putting personal money in and new sponsors we’ve managed to get by. Unfortunately during this time payments to players where made late but all payments to current squad members have been made for this we will hold our hands up and say it’s wrong but in the grand scheme of everything else we kept our promise that the money would be paid.

“We’re going in to a very very tough year you will have all seen what the other clubs are spending around us, all we can ask is that you support us and try get this great club back to where it deserves to be.

“I hope this covers everything for you and give you all a greater insight.

“We promised at our last fans meeting we’d make the end of the season and we did that now let’s push forward! The three friendly games are huge for the club so please come take advantage of the double header tickets and enjoy a great day of rugby.”

The statement sees the club cite failed fundraising efforts with three events being organised only to be cancelled due to interest parties failing to reach double figures.

Obviously with IMG set to try take on the game and rebrand it, Haven will be worried about this situation whereby they’re just keeping their head above water and they reference the spending power of other clubs in the division compared to themselves.

Despite this the side did follow up the announcement with the news that Lucas Castle has been granted his visa and the former NRL man will link up with his new club in the New Year.

The ex-St George Illawarra prop will be joined by former Brisbane Bronco, Lachlan Lanskey, as the Haven try to compete with division rivals in the 2023 season.

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