Swinton chairman queries inconsistencies following Widnes re-admission

Swinton Lions chairman Andy Mazey has released a lengthy statement in which he has requested information from the RFL in relation to supposed inconsistencies exposed following Widnes’s re-admission into the Championship under new ownership.

Last week, the Board of the Rugby Football League granted membership to the consortium who agreed a deal to take over the club with the administrators earlier this week.

The club has been issued a 12-point deduction.

Mazey congratulated the new owners of the Vikings, their supporters and the wider Rugby League community for their “magnificent efforts in safe-guarding the future” of the the club.

But he went on say that he is looking forward to “understanding the detail” behind the process that has led to the granting of a Championship license to “what on the face of it seems to be a new company”.

The statement continues: “I’m also keen to understand exactly what level of financial distribution if any was advanced to the old business ahead of administration and the subsequent liquidation.

“Like the others, I’m also curious as to what level of funding the new company will now receive from the Championship coffers moving forward this year.

“I will of course reserve judgement until these questions are answered and won’t comment any further at this stage.”

Mazey became chairman of Swinton Lions in 2017 and says that he explored the option of taking the club into administration – and even liquidation – but was told by the RFL that there would be “absolutely no guarantees of being allowed back into the sport at professional level”.

The statement adds: “This despite what had happened only a matter of months before at Bradford and has since happened at other clubs.

“Had we been afforded the ability to do what on the face of it, it seems Widnes and others have been allowed to, we would now be in a far stronger position and would not be hamstrung carrying the burden of historic CVA debt and a council loan amongst other historic issues which of course was none of mine or this current ownership’s creation or doing.

“The RFL statement I read last night is not crystal clear and I have written to Ralph Rimmer, so hopefully my fears will be unfounded as we have to have faith in the integrity of the sport and feel safe in the knowledge that rules would never be applied differently, dependent upon the size or perceived importance of a club.”

Mazey added that though the recent re-structure offered his side a reprieve, it “came at a cost” and as a result the club has the lowest central funding of all 14 clubs in the Championship, “despite technically finishing 12th in 2018”.

Mazey adds that that the RFL’s new measures, which he says “hold back percentages of already reduced central” funding and distributes funds “by way of rank and size on a scoring matrix”.

He says: “Obviously Swinton, at this stage, despite our best efforts and hard work of the past 18 months and progress, rank below the majority of clubs in Championship and quite a few in League One meaning the combination of a restructure and effects of ROI have made Swinton a unique case and we have been hurt more than any other club by it all.

“We are now operating the same business model, being asked to compete in the same competition, with the same level of staff, player and liabilities but having to bridge a £62,000 funding gap just to stand still which is very frustrating indeed and makes you question your faith in the sport at times and what you are doing investing in it.

“For our board it has clearly affected our planing and is changing our thinking and we have had to adapt and become even more economical with the use of our very limited resources.

“As the saying goes, however, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and with the continued investment from myself and other board members plus the backing of our fantastic commercial partners and sponsors we are still here and fighting.”

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