CASTLEFORD Tigers are considering shelving plans for a new stadium and may instead re-develop their existing Wheldon Road ground.
Tigers chief executive Steve Ferres (pictured) made the revelation at a meeting at Castleford’s Civic Hall last night which he called to update fans on the club’s “precarious” financial position.
Castleford signed a deal last year with developers to sell and redevelop their ground as a supermarket, which would then fund a new £12million stadium at nearby Glasshoughton for which they have received full planning consent.
A move to a new stadium was said to be key to the club retaining their Super League status, especially with neighbours Wakefield making progress on their planned move to a new home.
However, Ferres, who until recently worked as a club support officer for the Rugby Football League, says RFL regulations are being relaxed because of the country’s economic difficulties and admitted the club’s efforts to build a new stadium had stalled.
“The board of directors agree we need to look at alternative stadium options, including re-development of the existing Wheldon Road site,” Ferres said.
“The RFL are mindful of the testing economic climate and how it is impacting on the game generally.
“As a result, licensing requirements are being relaxed to enable clubs to explore different routes to ensure they achieve Super League status.
“The redevelopment is, therefore, a realistic and much more cost effective option and, after the support we received for it from fans tonight, one which will be given serious consideration.”
Ferres, who is a former chief executive of Wakefield and succeeded Richard Wright at Castleford in July, told last night’s meeting that the club urgently needed new investment and had targeted 5,000 season-ticket holders to ensure its survival.
“The current business model is not working,” he said. “We are falling short of the Super League’s model club and we, therefore, need to look at ways to work smarter and generate new revenue streams.
“We are working in extremely difficult times and it is clear that we aren’t the only club to be facing difficulties. Hull KR is one example who has already given an honest assessment of their current challenges.
“Identifying a new investor is integral to the club’s future and will be a priority for me as CEO.”
Castleford finished next to bottom of the 14-team Super League in coach Ian Millward’s first season after ending the campaign with seven straight defeats and Ferres, a former head coach of Huddersfield, warned fans that the team face a potentially difficult year ahead.
The club have lost 11 members of their 2012 squad and signed new six new players and Ferres revealed that there is little prospect of further additions without extra outside investment.
Ferres admitted the club would be prepared to sell England international Rangi Chase, the 2011 Man of Steel, who has three years left on his contract, if the deal suited the Tigers.
A proposed move to Hull recently fell through but, speaking on the eve of his departure with England for their training camp in South Africa, Chase revealed there is still interest from his former Australian club St George Illawarra and claimed Castleford would be happy for him to go.
Ferres said: “Any potential interest will be given due consideration and decisions will be made in the best interests of both parties.”