Wakefield Trinity Wildcats chairman Michael Carter says the club needs investment of £400,000 in the next two months or more players will have to follow Tim Smith out of the exit door to balance the books.
Carter took over from Andrew Glover as chairman a fortnight ago and has been charged with dragging the Super League club out of a financial crisis that risks seeing Richard Agar’s squad ripped apart to pay the bills.
Australian half-back Smith has already been sold to Salford City Reds to help pay his former teammates’ wages last month and more will follow unless much-needed investment comes into the Rapid Solicitors Stadium in the coming months.
Carter, who will work alongside director Chris Brereton in the day-to-day running of the club, has guaranteed Wildcats fans that the club will start in Super League next season and says Wakefield are not close to entering administration again despite the latest financial setbacks.
But he says investment is desperately needed to avoid a fire-sale of the current squad.
“For whatever reasons in the past, and it’s something I can’t change, this club has spent more than its earned and it’s that simple,” he said.
“Now I’m at the point where I either get money in, through whichever means, and we carry on with this team or we get investors in, but this club will carry on. Be it running on the budget of £1 million, £2 million or £3 million - the club will still be here.
“I’ve put a lot of money in, Chris has put some money in but we are not rich people, we are fans that came in charged with looking at the finances and seeing where we were. I’ve looked at them and they’re not good. I need £400,000 in the next couple of months, be it player sales or new investment.”
He added: “Tim Smith went because I needed to pay wages, it was that simple.
“At the same time I got a very decent offer for Danny Kirmond and I said no, I didn’t want to sell Danny Kirmond and at that time I didn’t have to, but if I don’t get further investment in then yes, players are going to have to go.
“I don’t see any point in beating about that bush because I haven’t got the money left to put in. We need to get investors in or we need to get more sponsors in.”
Carter, 44, sent out a plea to potential investors on Saturday morning for help and has already received some initial interest.
“At this moment in time we’ve had a small enquiry but it’s an enquiry of what we’re looking at to get us through this next couple of months so I don’t want to give false hope out there,” he said.
“But at the same time I can’t be downbeat, I’ve got to try and lift the morale of the whole place - the fans, the players, the club as a whole. It was pretty down after the game yesterday but I don’t expect it to be any different, we were well beat.”
Carter, who says he has not and does not intend to take a penny out of the club, has revealed James Elston will remain as chief operating officer under the restructuring and a deal is in place for the club’s new chairman to buy Andrew Glover’s shares.
Glover will stay on and focus on moving Wakefield to a new ground at Newmarket and has given assurances that he will not pull his money out of the club straight away.
“Andrew has given me a complete undertaking that he will not pull any of his money out,” he said.
“He’s given me that in writing and on a handshake and I trust the guy. I’ve done a deal with him and he’s assured me that’s the case so we’re not going to get through this and suddenly Andrew says he wants his money back.”
Carter has revealed there is still interest from Hull KR in winger Ben Cockayne and four clubs have also shown interest in signing prop Kyle Amor.
But he says the club will not bow to any clubs that look to buy Wakefield’s players on the cheap in light of their financial troubles.
“We’re fully aware of that and if anybody tries it on they’ll get short shrift,” he commented.
“We know a value of a player so 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 either. At the end of the day if I need some money in and I’ve not got it coming from anywhere else then somebody will have to go.”
Lee Smith and Ali Lauitiiti have penned new deals to remain at the club but Carter admits the club has been paying too much to some players.
He said: “I won’t go into specific details and we all have an opinion on what each individual player should be paid, but I wouldn’t pay some of the salaries.
“Then again, you look at some of the other deals, picking up the likes of Paul Aiton, who’s been fantastic for this club and I hope will be fantastic for us next season as well. We got Paul on a great deal. But I would say that there’s players that we’ve paid too much for.”
Carter says the club’s aim is to pull through and remain a Super League club beyond the end of next year, when promotion and relegation returns as part of league restructuring.
The potential sale of players will make that a tough task for head coach Richard Agar but even if the club does suffer relegation to the Championship Wakefield will strive for an immediate return to the top flight.
“We still believe we can run this and this club will go on forever, be in Championship or Super League, the club will survive because there’s a will out there,” he said.
“The public of Wakefield, the 4,000 season ticket holders last year, they want the club to go on and I want the club to go on. This club will survive beyond me and beyond Chris.
“If we go down we get a parachute paytment from the RFL and the aim will be to bounce straight back. If we don’t bounce straight back then the aim will be to bounce back again so we will always strive to be part of Super League, not to settle to be a Championship club.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’ll be easy and that we’ll bounce straight back because it won’t be, there are a lot of teams that would love to be part of Super League - Featherstone, Halifax, Sheffield, they’ll all want to come up so we’ll be in a dogfight if we go down, but our aim is we’re in the 12 come the end of 2014.”