Featherstone’s new chief executive Pat Cluskey says everyone at the club has a “good feeling” about next season.
At the end of the regular season in July, the Championship’s leading four clubs and Super League’s bottom four compete in the Super Eights play-offs for top-flight places in the Rugby League’s new structure .
“It’s an exciting time and I think it has captured the imagination of the supporters,” said 50-year-old Mr Clusky who took over as chief executive at the end of September.
“There has been a fantastic response so far from Featherstone fans with regards to season tickets. By the middle of November we’ve already sold about 50 per cent of what we sold last year.
“We’ve also had a great response to the new home shirt. Social media wasn’t full of praise initially but anyone who has been down to the ground to see the shirt to try them on have bought one. It’s a traditional rugby shirt with a plain, simple design and there’s nothing wrong with that.
“We have got some big games early on and if we can get off to a good start there is no reason why we can’t look forward to getting into the top four and having a crack at the Super Eights and that’s what everyone’s ambition is.
“It’s no good this year starting off poorly and being mediocre and looking to peak for the end of the season. You’ve got to peak for all the games next season. They say every minute matters and there’s probably never been a truer saying than that next season in the Championship.
“There’s a goal at the end of it. There is something to go for and it’s possible one team - maybe more - might get into Super League. I think it has enthused everyone both within the club itself and also the fans and volunteers.
“Everyone at the club has a really good feeling about the season.”
Mr Cluskey is full of admiration for the club’s volunteers who have redeveloped the Big Fellas Stadium’s Railway End.
The stadium’s newly-extended pitch will be used for the first time when Rovers host neighbours Castleford in a pre-season game on December 28 and work is nearing completion on the new stands that were dismantled at Scarborough Football Club’s former McCain Stadium and transported to Featherstone where they have been rebuilt.
“I worked at Chester Football Club and that was virtually volunteer run,” added Mr Cluskey.
“It was quite humbling at times watching what people did there but it was nothing compared to what the volunteers have done at Featherstone.
“They are here at 8am and they turn their hand to anything and everything. There are some very skilled people involved.
“It’s a massive project but it’s for a cause dear to their hearts and they obviously love Featherstone Rovers.
“The town of Featherstone and the rugby league community in general should be very grateful that there are people in this day and age - when for lots of people it’s all about money and glamour - who will turn up in all weather to work on the stands. It’s incredible and I’m full of admiration for their fantastic dedication.
“It has to inspire everyone else here. If those people are prepared to go to those lengths for this club, then on and off the pitch we have need to make sure we are as committed and dedicated as the volunteers.
“If you look at the work that is going on with the pitch and with the stands, it’s all about having the chance to be in Super League and having the likes of Wigan, St Helens and Leeds playing down here and seeing all the stands and terracing full.”
Mr Cluskey added that everyone was working hard to put the the club back on an even keel after the boardroom upheaval last June when majority shareholder Feisal Nahaboo quit the club.
“There are issues from the past which we are working through,” he said.
“As small as the Board is, they are very supportive and it’s just a question of trying to get ourselves back on track after the problems of last season.
“Everything is in the process of being resolved and we are getting back on an even keel.
“Any club with a benefactor always runs the risk of the benefactor stopping being a benefactor for what ever reason.
“We need to bring in enough business to ensure that we are in a situation whereby we are self sufficient. That’s easier said than done and it’s not going to happen overnight.
“I don’t think there is is anyone involved with Rovers who doesn’t want the best for the club.
“Everyone is working for the good of the club whether it be Mark Campbell with a JCB sorting out the pitch or Tony Lumb sorting out the recent bonfire event. They are all putting in many hours to help the club succeed.”
Rovers confirmed this week they received a winding up petition from the Inland Revenue at the end of last month. In a statement, the club said: “Following a number of conversations between the club and HMRC, a plan was agreed to pay this in four instalments, two of which have already been paid. The current balance outstanding is £11,100 and given the fact that details of the petition have been published the club is planning to bring forward the final two payments to clear the balance this week.
“ It is disappointing that the HMRC have chosen to advertise this when a plan to clear the arrears had been agreed and the club had already made the payments as promised. “