Wildcats Chairman Michael Carter says the club will remain despite revealing the extent of financial difficulties last weekend and player sales can be avoided by investment over the next two months.
Trinity were forced to sell scrum-half Tim Smith on Friday and Carter later admitted that the club had a shortfall of approximately £400,000.
In a press conference on Monday lunchtime, the Wildcats Chairman says he is prepared for the challenge of getting the club on a sound financial footing and whilst selling players is a last resort to getting to that stage, without investment coming from other areas such as Membership sales and sponsorship deals, then he will have no other alternative to ensure that Wakefield retains its only professional sports club.
He also confirmed that a deal was in place to buy Andrew Glover’s shares, making Carter the majority shareholder at the club, with Glover remaining involved with club to see the club into a new Community Stadium at Newmarket.
Whilst not shying away from the harsh realities facing the club, Carter says there is no way the club will not start 2014 in Super League and is confident Richard Agar will be able to put together a competitive squad.
“I was charged two weeks ago with becoming Chairman, I did a review of the finances and came to the conclusion that we need investment into this club,” he said.
“For whatever reasons in the past, this club has spent more than it’s earned, and it’s that simple. Now I’m at the point that I get money in, through whichever means, and this club will carry on. Be it running on a budget of one, two or three million pounds, the club will still be here.
“I’ve put a lot of money in, Chris (Brereton, club Director) has put a lot of money in but we’re not rich people. I’ve looked at the finances and they’re not good. What I put out in the press release is correct – I need £400,000 in the next couple of months, be it from player sales or other investment. We’re cutting costs but that is on top of that.
“We’ve got a budget in place for next season that we think we can live with and be competitive. We want to be in the top twelve. There’s no point saying we want to be in the Championship because we want to be in Super League.
“We played a team last night…who picked up the League Leaders Shield. But tell me where they would be without a Ken Davy? We haven’t got a Ken Davy.
“I don’t want to give false hope but at the same time I’ve got to be upbeat. I’ve got to lift the morale of the whole place, the fans, the players and the club as a whole. It was pretty down yesterday and I wouldn’t expect it to be any different – we’d just got beat.
“If I don’t get further investment then players will have to go. I don’t see any point beating about that bush because I haven’t got the money left to put in and the club hasn’t. We haven’t got 50 grand just there to go and pay somebody. We need to get investors in or more sponsorship in.
“Our sponsorship deals for next season were somewhere in the region of the £400,000 mark. We’ve targeted £600,000 for next season and we think it’s doable. We had a problem with our main sponsor going bust. We got a new sponsor in but it didn’t help us cash wise, we still lost out on that.
“I can’t do anything with what’s gone on in the past apart from deal with the present problems and build a plan for the future. We’ve got the plan in place and if we can get to the starting point of that plan, which is what we’re talking about, then I fully believe that we can get through this as a competitive Super League team. It’s whether I can get to that starting point.”
Carter confirmed that there has been a restructure of the clubs management, with himself and Chris Brereton responsible for running the club on a day-to-day basis. James Elston remains at the club in the role of Chief Operating Officer, focussing on increasing Commercial revenue from around £400,000 in 2013 to £600,000 for the 2014 season and also providing advice on the rugby league aspect of running the club given his experience within the game.
The recently appointed Wildcats Chairman says from speaking to Richard Agar on a daily basis that the Wakefield head coach is up for the fight of keeping the club competitive on the field and reinforced the point that should the club receive the investment it requires then there won’t be the need to sell any more players.
He confirms that the option for supporters to spread the cost of Memberships has been extended into September, meaning supporters can show their support for an upfront payment of £60 (Gold Membership) or £80 (Platinum Membership) followed by monthly instalments of £20 and £40 respectively.
“I can understand his frustration and it’s not Richard’s fault that we’re in this situation. At some point, somebody should have been saying, ‘We can’t afford this’, or ‘we can’t afford that’.
“I talked to Richard about this last night and he’s up for the fight. He’s done it once before and says he can do it again. It’ll be difficult, but we’re not afraid of hard work.
“If we haven’t had the investment then we will have to start selling players. Having just lost Tim Smith, we need another half-back. We took a gamble on Tim and that could have quite easily gone the other way.
“I hope the fans will keep coming forward to buy them (Memberships). I know there’s not a lot of good news coming at the minute but the message is that we are planning on being here next year to make the twelve.
“What I won’t do is spend money I haven’t got. I could go out and buy, I know they’re not available now, but a Darren Lockyer. I’ll give him £200,000 but I’ll pay him for a month and then we won’t be here. We will still have a club next season and we will put out the most competitive team we can.
“Richard is on board, his staff are on board and he is really up for the fight of putting together a team and a squad for next season. If we can get over this albeit massive hurdle, we believe we’ve got the playing budget and operating budget in place to fulfil this criteria.”
Carter once again reiterated that should the club achieve above it’s Membership target of over 4,000 then additional revenue will be put back into the team and that any additional revenue generated by other means will likewise go into the playing budget.
Whilst conceding that supporters have been put in this position before, Carter said his focus is on the present and future, with what’s happened in the past out of his control. He has asked for the support of the people of Wakefield to help guarantee the strongest possible team for next season and beyond.
He also said any clubs thinking they can get players on the cheap should Trinity need to sell more of the squad, are sadly mistaken.
“This club gets in your blood and we are doing the best we can. We need support from everyone out there that professes to be a Wakefield Trinity supporter. We are trying to put this club on a sound financial footing without a benefactor. If there’s one out there then please give me a phone call.
“Anybody that tries it on will get short shrift. Between us and Richard we know the value of a player. Nobody is getting a cheap deal out of Wakefield. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to it. Tim’s gone and I’m hoping that’s the end of it. But I can’t sit here and promise that. If I need some money in and I haven’t got it in from anywhere else then somebody will have to go.”
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