Keighley mount legal challenge over relegation

Keighley Cougars.
Keighley Cougars.
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Keighley are stepping up their legal battle with the Rugby Football League in an effort to prevent them being relegated from the Kingstone Press Championship.

The Cougars, furious that relegation rivals Batley were not docked points for fielding an ineligible player during a win over Sheffield in July, are threatening to take out a High Court injunction to prevent the governing body releasing the fixtures for 2015 until their dispute is resolved.

“Our lawyers have put that forward as an option and communicated that to the RFL yesterday but it’s not our preferred route,” said Keighley chairman Gary Fawcett, who has put forward a proposal for a 13-team league for 2015 as a possible solution.

Keighley, who have been joined by Sheffield Eagles in their action, have sent a 2,000-signature on-line petition to the RFL, enlisted the assistance of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group of MPs and are seeking the 10 per cent support they need to call an extraordinary general meeting of the RFL.

The case brings back memories of the Cougars’ unsuccessful legal challenge against the RFL in 1995 over their exclusion from Super League.

“That upset the rest of the clubs so we’d rather take a different route this time but our fans are absolutely furious,” said Fawcett, who organised a public meeting last night.

“The indisputable fact is that the league’s own rules have been broken. Going right back to 1895, St Helens played an ineligible player and were deducted a win so there is consistency through rugby league right from the beginning.

“In this instance, two operational rules have been broken and one has been ignored.”

The RFL initially deducted points from both Batley and Doncaster, who were also found guilty of fielding an ineligible player, but the verdicts were over-turned on appeal.

Fawcett stresses that his club’s argument is not with Batley but with the RFL and is hoping to push forward his plan for an alternative 13-team competition at a meeting of Championship clubs’ chief executives on October 8.

An RFL spokesman said there was no comment from the governing body.