Wakefield Trinity Wildcats were in turmoil today after star player Tim Smith was sold to Salford City Reds with “immediate effect”.
Wildcats chairman Michael Carter revealed he has accepted a “substantial” bid for the Australian former Wigan Warriors scrum-half.
Carter said the transfer is in response to financial problems which have left Wildcats “under-capitalised” by around £400,000.
But he revealed he has turned down a “six-figure” offer for captain Danny Kirmond and said former Leeds Rhinos duo Lee Smith and Ali Lauitiiti have both signed a new contract.
Carter - who took over as chairman from club owner Andrew Glover earlier this month - believes Wildcats can move to their proposed new ground at Newmarket as a top-flight side, but questioned if the city wants a full-time Super League club.
The dramatic developments were revealed in a statement issued this morning.
The full text of the statement reads: “Following the announcement of my position as Chairman of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, I would firstly like to thank all those fans that have wished me well in the role.
“Having conducted a review of the whole business and in particular the finances of the club, it has become obviously apparent that the club is completely under capitalised at this time to the tune of somewhere in the region of £400,000. It’s no secret that the vast majority of Super League clubs all need significant investment and this is usually financed by wealthy owners. Wakefield doesn’t have one of these, so to be a success we need the people and businesses of Wakefield to come forward.
“This has led to a restructure in the top management at the club and ultimately it is now myself and another director, Chris Brereton, who are managing the club on a day-to-day basis. We are two fans who have stepped forward to try and pull this club through what is a very difficult situation and we would appreciate your full support in these testing times.
“Therefore, ultimately it was my decision to sell Tim Smith to Salford with immediate effect for a substantial fee. I would also say that on the same day I turned down an offer of a substantial six-figure sum for our captain Danny Kirmond. Having spoken to Danny during the week and explaining that I want to try and build a team around him, he told me he was perfectly happy at Wakefield and is happy to lead from the front. As has already been announced, Danny has signed a new deal and my ultimate aim is to see him leading us out at Newmarket as a Super League club.
“For that to happen, we need all the fans of the club and local businesses to really step forward and show how much it means. We are confident that we have a business plan in place that can see us as a competitive team in Super League 2014. However, we cannot do it without immediate cash inflows including, but not exclusively, 2014 Memberships. We feel they still represent excellent value.
“We have budgeted for 4,000 sales. If we sell more than this, I guarantee that these funds will be ploughed back into the team for next season. However, without any sugar daddy waiting in the wings, I have to run this club as a business. Expenditure must equal income. If there are people out there willing to invest in this great club then they must come forward now.
“On the positive side, we have managed to extend the contracts of some of our key players. I have already mentioned Danny, but also Dean Collis and most recently Lee Smith and Ali Lauitiiti have all signed up for next season.
“We are also soon to launch our Sport & Education Academy. We want to make this college the best around in terms of providing further and higher education to young people looking to get a sporting qualification. It will also generate funds that again will be ploughed back into the running of the club.
“It also means that our under 19’s Academy side will become full-time next season for the first time in the clubs history which is quite an achievement. We would love to have a team of homegrown players playing in front of Wakefield fans. This college also strengthens our position in the local community, something that our community team have quite rightly been praised for by many people and organisations - local people supporting local people.
“I know that you as fans will have many more questions. I am arranging to meet with the Supporters Trust this week to try and explain the actions we are taking. I have always been an open and honest person, and where possible, I will aim to answer all questions if I possibly can.
“I know with a lot of hard work and a little luck, we can get this club to Newmarket as a Super League club. It is more important than ever that you stick with me and my small team to manage this business properly. Should there be anything of great magnitude I will endeavour to tell you all as soon as I possibly can.
“The question remains, does this great city of Wakefield want a full-time professional Super League club, or not? If the answer is yes, then I need your support more than ever before.”