Players pledge loyalty in face of bleak future for York City Knights

York City Knights head coach James Ford
York City Knights head coach James Ford
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York City Knights head coach James Ford says his players are remaining loyal to the Kingstone Press League 1 club after the board of directors announced its imminent closure.

The Knights’ players are set to become free agents but Ford says they are sticking together in the hope a resolution to the crisis can be found and he praised efforts of the Rugby Football League as rescue talks got under way.

York’s directors say they cannot continue running the club after a two-year struggle to find a home reached crisis point with the postponement of Sunday’s opening Super 8s fixture with Doncaster.

The club has effectively been homeless since being forced out of Huntington Stadium in 2014 and had hoped to ground-share with York City until the City of York Council’s community stadium project came to fruition.

A statement issued by the directors on Thursday night said: “It is with sincere regret that we are to announce that York City Knights will be closing as a business once all legal formalities and obligations have been carried out, which will allow all the players and staff to become free agents.

“This is done with deep sadness but with the certainty that we did everything in our power to last through the challenging times since our eviction from the Huntington Stadium in 2014 and the difficult circumstances the club has experienced ever since.

“The board of directors now have no alternative and have been forced to make this very difficult decision.”

Ford and the players met with the directors and a representative of the RFL on Thursday when they were brought up to date with the crisis.

“We’re obviously disappointed with the things that transpired but I know the RFL are working tirelessly to try and find a resolution,” said Ford.

“There is a lot of hard work in a short space of time but Sunday’s game has been postponed to give everybody a bit of breathing space. We met with the board and owner and a representative of the RFL last night and I can’t speak highly enough about their efforts.

“The players have been tremendous throughout all this and I was overwhelmed by the show of loyalty and the spirit and togetherness last night.

“There is a lot of interest in the players, many of whom would strengthen teams in League 1 and the Championship.”

The news comes as clubs prepare to play the end-of-season play-offs. York finished third at the end of the regular season and were expected to challenge for promotion to the Championship.

“As a group, we really fancy our chances of performing well in the Super 8s and beyond,” said Ford.

Castleford and Featherstone, as well as Doncaster, have all offered to stage York’s home game at a cost if it can be rearranged and it is thought the club are still due money from the RFL via central funding.

A spokesperson for the governing body said: “As with any club in difficulty, the RFL will work closely with York City Knights to assist them with the issues they are currently facing. We will continue to work with them over the coming days as they speak with all stakeholders in an attempt to work through the situation.”