Featherstone Rovers chairman Mark Campbell hits back at critics after announcing intention to quit when pay issues are sorted

Featherstone Rovers chairman Mark Campbell has announced plans to step down once he has cleared cashflow issues at the club.
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Rovers are believed to owe money to players and staff after stretching themselves too far in a bold bid to get into Super League and matters have come to a head after former star Craig Hall took to social media to express his disappointment over a delay in receiving his payment from his testimonial game in January 2023.

Campbell admitted there have been financial difficulties at the club, but in a statement issued through the Rovers website he has hit back strongly at critics as well as revealing his plans.

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He said: “As the club’s chairman, I take full responsibility for everything that happens at this club and do feel I have taken my eye off the ball due in part to other issues and my own business commitments.

Featherstone Rovers chairman Mark Campbell has vowed to clear cashflow issues before stepping down from his role and membership of the board of directors.Featherstone Rovers chairman Mark Campbell has vowed to clear cashflow issues before stepping down from his role and membership of the board of directors.
Featherstone Rovers chairman Mark Campbell has vowed to clear cashflow issues before stepping down from his role and membership of the board of directors.

"In view of this, I will work with Martin (Vickers, chief executive) and Steve (Clough, director) to address the cash flow issue. However, once this task has been accomplished, I will be stepping down as chairman and from the board of directors.

"I think all of our supporters need to know that for the last two years, we spent like a Super League club to ensure we got promoted. We did this on £80k broadcast distribution per annum, not the £1.4m of our Super League counterparts and we did this to achieve Super League promotion before the IMG door was firmly shut this season.

"To put things into perspective, we owed to players at the end of the 2023 season circa £30k. As I speak, we have delivered all of these payments of salaries with the exception of one overseas player and the reimbursement of flight expenses of another player. We continue to work positively with GMB (players’ union) to resolve those matters.”

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Addressing claims made by Hall, the statement continued: “His testimonial year ended in December 2023 and he was entitled to a part-payment of the Hull KR game proceeds.

"As a club, we supported Craig throughout the year with free marketing, room hire, opening up the club’s shirt sponsors to him, club directors sat on his testimonial committee and plenty more, so we were naturally disappointed that it has come to this. Craig has received a part payment of the balance and we expect to fully resolve this matter within the next two weeks.”

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Campbell took the chance to explain why the club has hit financial troubles.

He added: “In terms of the negative comments from our own fans, I find it extremely hurtful not only to myself and my family but also to fellow directors and the team of staff who work so hard behind the scenes to make this club survive.

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"For those fans who have crossed the line in terms of libellous personal comments, I will be taking appropriate advice on those matters. Don’t think you are safe on your Facebook channels.

“For the last two years, this club has left no stone unturned in seeking promotion to Super League. We all know that, from this season, the door is firmly shut for good on Super League for clubs like ours because of the IMG criteria so we had to speculate if we were to achieve this long-standing objective.

"We did speculate at a time when our broadcast distribution had declined by at least 75%, at a time when the costs of running this stadium went through the roof, at a time when our supporter base unfortunately stayed the same throughout this period at just 700 paying season ticket holders

“We did build a team of the highest paid players in the Championship, that won the league by a huge margin but once again failed on the big occasion, a team that were paid on time every time during those two seasons.

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"We did speculate on the back of significant investment from myself and Steven Clough (this is now in excess of £1.7m), unprecedented commercial investment in the club brought in by Martin Vickers (£600k within the last two years), but unfortunately that investment was unsuccessful.

"It is worth noting that the club spent on salaries in the last two years circa £2.2m, there is currently £8.5k owed in respect of unpaid salaries from the 23 season.

“We have therefore, as I have said previously, cut our cloth accordingly this year, with a reduction in our playing budget of 55% with the sole objective of delivering a Featherstone team that will fight for the badge rather than themselves and I really do hope that the last two games have shown some positive signs of this.

"We appreciate the support of our fans, but in the current budget plans, our season ticket income based upon 700 paying season ticket holders, probably still accounts for less than 30% of our reduced playing budget so I do expect that we will need to cut further in future seasons if this position remains.

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"We always knew the transition to the reduced budget would be difficult, we were very open about this. We have had the longest off-season ever in recent history from February to March with no home games so there was bound to have been issues along the way.

“We have fully explained the journey we are on, we need the fans to be with us. We all experienced against Wakefield one of the best moments in recent years for our team but the hard facts were we still had more Wakefield fans in the ground than Featherstone supporters. If our fans really do want to make a difference and help, they need to get behind us at Leigh and the forthcoming big games against Wakefield Trinity and Bradford.

“James Ford and this team need your support more than ever.”