Featherstone Rovers accused of 'failing to co-operate' with police enquiry into alleged Covid breach

Featherstone Rovers have been accused of not co-operating with a police probe into an alleged illegal gathering at the club's home ground.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:25 pm
The club has previously insisted it was co-operating with the police.

The rugby league side could lose its alcohol licence following the claims, with a hearing scheduled to take place next week.

An enforcement officer at Wakefield Council said a Rovers official had been "obstructive" when the authorities were investigating whether or not Covid restrictions had been breached at the Millennium Stadium in March.

Police also said the club had "not volunteered information" when requested.

Rovers said that the hearing, pencilled in for next Tuesday, would "demonstrate the club's commitment to co-operate with the relevant authorities".

It was reported earlier this year that the Championship side's players had allegedly mingled in a bar at the ground, on Post Office Road, following their Challenge Cup victory over Batley on March 27.

Covid restrictions at the time banned pubs from trading beyond a delivery service, while indoor gatherings were illegal.

Rugby League Live subsequently reported that player Brett Ferres was handed a 10-day ban by the Rugby Football League (RFL), following the alleged incident, while the club's general manager, Steve Gill, resigned.

Now, in papers released ahead of next Tuesday's licensing hearing, West Yorkshire Police have accused the club of "serious failings".

In a written submission asking for Wakefield Council to consider revoking Rovers' booze licence, PC Toby Warden said: "The premises was visited after local press coverage and information received from the Rugby Football League regarding a breach in coronavirus regulations under the Business and Planning Act 2020.

He added: "The club (licence holder), when asked, have not volunteered evidence in their possession when asked by a responsible authority (police).

"Police have had to attend on two occasions utilising their powers under the Licensing Act in order to secure the evidence which will be relied upon in this review."

Wakefield Council's licensing enforcement team have supported the police's request for the licence to be reviewed.

In his written submission, enforcement officer Paul Dean said the club had not upheld certain licensing objectives, which businesses that sell alcohol are expected to adhere to.

Mr Dean said that Rovers, "Failed to promote the licensing objectives further with the club official's failures to co-operate with the police during their investigation into the reports received.

He added: "The highlighted obstructive behaviour after holding an illegal gathering at the rugby club demonstrates that the officials at Featherstone Rovers RFLC have shown little to no regard to promote any of the licensing objectives, especially the officials considerable disregard to promote the prevention of crime and disorder objective."

In response, new Featherstone Rovers CEO Martin Vickers said: "We anticipate that the hearing will ensure the full facts of the case will be heard and will demonstrate the club’s commitment to cooperate with relevant authorities throughout this matter."

Local Democracy Reporting Service