Hurting Cougars seek legal advice following relegation

Keighley Cougars coach Paul March.
Keighley Cougars coach Paul March.
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IRATE Keighley Cougars chairman Gary Fawcett has cited the Champions League case involving Celtic and Legia Warsaw as an example of what should have happened following the Championship’s dual-registration drama.

He says the relegated West Yorkshire club are seeking legal advice regarding the failure of the Rugby Football League to dock Batley Bulldogs three points for fielding an ineligible player.

Polish football side Warsaw were thrown out of the top European competition for a similar misdemeanour.

Keighley, meanwhile, suffered demotion in agonising circumstances on Sunday. They conceded a last-minute try to second-placed Featherstone Rovers to lose 26-24 and slip into 10th spot – the final relegation berth. They finished just one point behind Batley who delivered a surprise win at high-flying Doncaster.

However, Keighley are furious given their rivals – and Doncaster – were docked three points for breaking dual-registration rules last month only to have them reinstated on appeal.

That gave Batley a vital lifeline and without it they would now be contemplating Championship One in 2015.

Keighley have already been aggrieved once before by the governing body this season when player-coach Paul March was twice handed lengthy bans for verbally abusing match officials.

“I spoke to the RFL straight after the match expressing that we are feeling very hard done to,” said Fawcett. “Our head coach was found guilty of transgressing one rule – although I analysed video footage from one of the allegations and could find no evidence he was guilty – and was punished with a four-match ban followed by a two-month stadium ban.

“On the other side it’s agreed Doncaster and Batley broke rules and fielded ineligible players one of which, Jacob Fairbank, scored Batley’s winning try during the game in which he was ineligible.

“For breaching this rule Batley and Doncaster were found guilty and deducted three points by a disciplinary panel which were somehow, miraculously, reinstated the following week and, as far as we know, neither club has been punished at all. There is no publicly available information informing us why the points were re-instated. When the same thing happened in football earlier this year, the team in question was thrown out of the competition. We’re seeking legal advice regarding this problem.”

Featherstone entertain Halifax in their first play-off game on Sunday (3pm) with Doncaster heading to Leigh and Dewsbury hosting Workington at the same time. Sheffield Eagles face Batley at Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster on Saturday (3pm).