Keighley Cougars have had their application to be part of next year’s reserves competition rejected by the RFL.
The 11 Super League clubs have agreed a proposal for all top level clubs to have a mandatory reserve team, while Championship clubs Bradford and Widnes will also run second string sides.
The Cougars were one of five other Championship or League 1 clubs who submitted an application to join them, however their application was rejected despite the club running a successful reserves side for the past four years.
In an open statement, Keighley reserve coach Dean Muir said: “I’m writing this open letter to our fans to express how deeply upset I truly am regarding the decision by the Rugby Football League to reject our application to join the revamped Reserves Championship competition in 2020.
“Regardless of what is said in the press over the coming days and weeks, the simple truth is that without Keighley Cougars and Halifax RL since 2015, there would have been no reserve grade competition as we have been running the backbone who kept the competition running when barely anyone at Super League level cared.
“For us as a club, a club that has produced a number of first team players for both our club and others through the reserve grade, this is a heart breaking decision and one that will set the Keighley Cougars back in being able to develop our own homegrown players.
“Despite the fact the club is launching a Category 3 Academy starting from this September, the pathway between college age and open age has now been cut and with Rugby League being a late maturation sport, it means our timescale and opportunity to help develop these players has now been damaged.
“We now have a decision to make regarding the long-term future of our reserve players and club as well as making a decision short-term on whether it is worth our time and money to complete this current season and fulfil our remaining five fixtures.”