Castleford Tigers face potential ground delay

Castleford Tigers may have to scale back their plans for a new ground because of the recession.

The Tigers have outline planning permission for a 14,000-capacity stadium just off the M62 but have yet to secure funding and chief executive Richard Wright today warned they may have to build the new ground in stages.

Speaking at the club's pre-season media day at the Diggerland leisure park, Wright also warned the team face a period of consolidation after "probably over-achieving" in Super League in 2009.

Castleford were one of five clubs sent warning letters by the Rugby Football League last year to act on their promises to improve their facilities or face losing their Super League licences when they come up for renewal in 2011.

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Wright admits the club may now have to ask the League for flexibility after a collapse in the housing market stalled plans to sell their current ground at Wheldon Road.

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"We hope to get detailed planning consent in six months' time but, given the time constraints of Super League, we may have to phase the building," he told reporters.

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"We prefer not to but we may have to start with a reduced capacity, maybe starting with two stands and developing the ends at a later stage.

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"We would have to speak to the RFL but we could probably get to nearly 11,000 that way.

"We have absolute confidence in the stadium, it's just getting it delivered on time.

"It's achievable to play there in 2012 but, if the economy continues as it is, it may take a little longer and we would have to look at contingency plans."

Wakefield, Salford and St Helens are confident of moving into new stadia in 2012 while Crusaders, the other club told to deliver on their promises, have solved their ground issues by sharing the Racecourse Ground with Wrexham FC.

Castleford, who open Super League XV with a trip to champions Leeds on February 5, have made just two close-season signings in Steve Snitch (Wakefield) and Paul Jackson (Huddersfield) and Wright accepts they face a difficult task matching their seventh-placed finish in 2009.

"We have got to try and equal what we did last year," he said. "We

probably over-achieved a bit last year and we are maybe aiming for a bit of consolidation.

"We will try and make sure we stay in the play-offs and we may have a bit more scope next year."

Meanwhile, Castleford head coach Terry Matterson faced the media today for the first time since revealing he lost a finger during a training-ground incident on the club's pre-season trip to France last week.

The 42-year-old Australian severed the digit in his left hand after his wedding ring got caught on a steel fence as he climbed it to retrieve a ball.

"It's probably hit me a little bit more today but when I heard about the young kid from Castleford who passed away fighting for his country it put things into perspective," he said.

"It was a bit traumatic but, at the end of the day, it's just a finger and life goes on. I'm right-handed so that's a big bonus."

Matterson, who will miss the official Super League launch in London next Monday in order to see a specialist, demonstrated that he has not lost his sense of humour when explaining the club's injury situation.

Goalkicking threequarter Kirk Dixon, the club's leading scorer in 2009, will miss the first month of the season because of a blood clot in his calf but half-backs Brent Sherwin and Rangi Chase, who missed Saturday's 14-12 win over Catalans in Perpignan, are expected to play against Huddersfield in the club's final pre-season trial game at the Jungle on Tuesday.

"It's a bit of blow for us because Kirk was really good for us last year," he said. "Fingers - or finger crossed - that everyone else will be okay."

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