AMBITIOUS York City Knights have made James Ford their first-ever full-time head coach.
The North Yorkshire club, who face a top-of-the-table League 1 clash at Bradford Bulls on Sunday, are making progress on and off the pitch.
Ford, regarded as one of the best young British coaches in the game, has signed a contract until the end of 2021.
The new and improved deal begins in September and is a sign of the belief the club has in the former Sheffield Eagles and Castleford Tigers centre.
York are currently second having won 15 of their 17 league games so far ahead of the trip to leaders Bradford.
Ford, 35, was named England Academy assistant coach earlier this year and he admitted: “It was a big decision for me to take a full-time role in the game.
“But it’s one I’m very excited about.
"I'm very proud to be head coach of York City Knights and I'm proud of the progress that club is making on and off the field.
"There's always been potential in the city and we’re heading in the right direction. The club feels ready to take that next step and I’m honoured to have that responsibility.”
As part of his new full-time remit, Ford will help the club continue to grow the community game in North Yorkshire, and will work with sponsors to promote and impact on club partners to grow turnover, as well as spending more time on first-team duties.
He took over the reins at York after retiring there as a player at the end of 2014, and has led the team to three consecutive League 1 play-off semi-finals, plus the 2016 League 1 Cup final.
Knights chairman Jon Flatman said: “We’re delighted that James has committed to this new contract.
“There’s a commitment to ensure we've got a quality product and a competitive team on the field, and the head coach obviously plays a key role in making that happen.
"James has a big future in the game and we wanted to ensure that he plays a big part in York City Knights' future.
"His relationship with players and other people in the game is excellent and the club will continue to build on and off the field with James leading the way."