Wildcats chairman quietly confident over Super League franchise bid

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CHAIRMAN Andrew Glover believes Wakefield Trinity Wildcats have a “really good chance” of winning a Super League licence for the next three seasons.

Glover travelled to the Rugby Football League’s (RFL) Red Hall base in Leeds on Wednesday to deliver the club’s franchise application alongside head coach John Kear.

And after four weeks of hard work from all involved at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium, Glover believes the club have an application to be proud of and one that will give them a fighting of chance of retaining their Super League status beyond this season.

“It’s been hard work the last four weeks. We’ve got everything we wanted in it so we think we’ve got a really good chance,” he said.

“It’s been an education for me to learn what goes on, the amount of detail you have to go to for this kind of thing. I’m impressed with the professionalism that’s required to have a Super League club.”

Glover has only been chairman of the club since mid-February but his focus has been firmly on the franchise bid, insisting he’s “never worked as hard” in his life.

The application is more than 700 pages long and details all aspects of the club, from the playing side to the community side and the potential new stadium.

His late arrival at Belle Vue meant that the application had to be done in double-quick time. But it hasn’t suffered from a lack of quality, with Glover heaping praise on the club’s staff for their hard work.

“Everything’s been done since we took over,” he said.

“James had got the outline put together of what everyone required but nobody had really done much because they didn’t know what the future was.

“When I was on the point of buying we itemised the next month’s work we had to do and this was top of the list.

“We’ve set the business plan up on day one and we followed it up and showed everyone else what we’re doing.”

Moving out of Belle Vue and to a new, purpose-built community stadium at Newmarket has formed a key part of the club’s application to the RFL.

But a move to Barnsley’s Oakwell Stadium is now unlikely, with the club keen to develop Belle Vue for another season at their historic ground before moving on to a new stadium in 2013.

“The New stadium is obviously a massive part of it (the application),” Glover continued.

“Within our application we’re putting in to be staying in our stadium for the 2012 season. We’re not redeveloping Belle Vue as such as a whole stadium, but we’re going to develop it to a better level than it currently is. Extra seating and making standing areas better. We’re also hoping to get some of the standing areas covered but that’s not guaranteed yet.

“For us, you’ve got to have 12,000 people covered and 5,000 sat down and we obviously can’t comply with that but that’s for a Grade A team and Grade A application. We know we’re Grade C so we just want to be the best Grade C we can be to give us the best chance.

He continued: “There’s been a lot of talk about us moving to Barnsley or not. We can’t rule anything about, but within our application we haven’t put that we’re going to Barnsley and the main reason is the RFL told us that wouldn’t be their best option.

“So, with developments that we can afford to put into Belle Vue, it actually makes it a better option to stay there if it is only for one season which is what we’re aiming for.

“If you look at all areas, the commercial side, community side, the fans coming to the game, the way we play the game, it works so much better at Belle Vue than it would at Barnsley, the only thing that Barnsley does is comply with the stadium, we’re trying to do that with the new stadium anyway.”

“There’s still a Plan A and Plan B, Plan A is still Newmarket and our application is planned around Newmarket.

“We had a meeting with the council last week and with the developer and there were a couple of supporters groups there and we believe that it’s going to come through Plan A in March next year. So 12 months away is not too far away to have to look at and I believe we’ll get it.”

The club now faces a wait until Sunday, July 31 when the RFL will announce the clubs successful in their licence application.

But the Wakefield chairman believes Wildcats fans can still help boost their chances by flocking to the Rapid Solicitors Stadium for coming matches.

“They’ve (the RFL) got two to three months to consider our application and if we can get our gate up - we had 6,084 home fans on average last season, if we can get that up to 8,000 this season - the RFL can see that we are a club that should stay, because we do have the fan base.

“To get 5,000 members is one of the tick boxes. We’ve got just short of 3,000 at the moment so we need everyone to come down and support us.”

The club is offering Silver membership for £20 for the rest of the season, with free entry included into the next home game against Harlequins on Sunday, April 10.

The offer is only available by collecting one of the special vouchers in Friday’s Express Sport.

Now the licence application has been handed in, Glover can turn his attentions to the potential new stadium at Newmarket and continue to take the club in ”the right direction”.

He said: “We’re not there yet, there’s lots to do but it’s going in the right direction.

“Originally I said I wanted to have a sustainable business, whether it’s in Super League or the Championship, so we can keep rugby in Wakefield.

“We’re getting there, the business is financially sustainable we don’t need to worry about that anymore.

“It can be the best Super League club. It might take us ten years but we can have the best Super League club and that’s the target. We won’t be sitting down until we get closer to that. We have a five year business plan and it’s a Super League business plan.”

See Friday’s Wakefield Express for all the latest Wakefield Wildcats news and a special voucher for discounted Silver membership and free entry into the Harlequins game.