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Halifax Panthers could lose stadium due to local council in IMG blow

Leeds Rhinos young prop Ben Hursey-Hord has been linked with a move to The Shay - Copyright: xSimonxHallx 38280001

Former Super League team Halifax Panthers could be about to lose their historic stadium, the Shay, according to reports.

As per the Halifax Courier, the local council, that being Calderdale Council, is looking into potential budget cuts that could see them “dispose of” the Shay according to the report which could see Halifax Panthers lose their stadium.

These proposed cost savings by Calderdale Council include disposing of The Shay stadium, cuts to youth services and possible job losses after a warning that it will look into reducing services.

The leader of the Council presented the budget proposals at a cabinet meeting on Monday. This marked the beginning of a period of public consultation. The Council is legally required to set a balanced budget each year. However, based on the Council’s current financial forecasts, the local authority is facing budget deficits of £7.5 million in 2024/5, £6.2 million in 2025/6, and £4.8 million in 2026/27. These figures are based on the likely impacts of the economic situation on the Council, including higher contract costs, ongoing impacts on levels of income, pay inflation, and energy costs.

Coun Jane Scullion, Leader of Calderdale Council, said that these are extremely challenging times, and unfortunately, they are now faced with some very difficult choices. Calderdale has a proud record of robust financial management, and they will not put that reputation at risk. Their priority is to set a sustainable budget, for this and subsequent years, and they must continue to balance the books.

Over recent years, the Council has tried to do ‘more with less,’ but this is not sustainable. Therefore, they must now look at reducing services that they are not legally required to provide. Calderdale must, by law, provide certain services such as social care and refuse collections, whereas many other services are optional. To protect their most critical services, they have no choice but to make some tough decisions.

If the council go forward with this it could have a massive impact on Halifax’s IMG grading.

What is IMG grading in rugby league?

Picture by Olly Hassell/SWpix.com – 22/04/2023 – Rugby League – Betfred Challenge Cup Round 5 – Halifax Panthers v Bradford Bulls – The Shay Stadium, Halifax, England – Halifax’s celebrating James Saltonstall’s 100th career try

This of course could have a massive impact on Halifax Panthers not just on their immediate future but their long-term future as well.

IMG are now involved in the sport and their gradings include the likes of finances and on-field performance but crucially facilities such as stadiums. Losing the Shay would understandably hurt their score here but that could be the least of their worries.

The Panthers, like Salford Red Devils, nearly were, would violate IMG’s minimum standards which would effectively end any hopes of a Super League return.

Halifax missed out on the all-important top 12 spots in IMG’s 2023 rankings which you can see here.

When were Halifax in Super League?

Halifax Panthers v St Helens Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 19/05/2023 – Rugby League – Betfred Challenge Cup: Round 6 – Halifax Panthers v St Helens – The Shay Stadium, Halifax, England – St Helens Jack Welsby in action. Copyright: x xSWpix.comxt/axPhotographyxHubxLtdxAlexxWhitehead/SWpix.comx SWP-2060-0015

It has now been over 20 years since Halifax were last in Super League. Then simply referred to as Blue Sox rather than the Panthers, they struggled in the 2003 campaign and suffered relegation at the end of it and have been unable to return since.

This is a sad state of affairs for a side that finished inside the top four and contested the first-ever Super League play-off series back in 1998.

The Panthers have come close to promotion in recent times finishing third in 2021 and 2022 under Simon Grix but both times they were unable to find their way back into Super League losing their first play-off final in a shock result costing them their shot at Super League promotion.

Grix has since left the Panthers to join Hull FC as assistant coach.

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