Wakefield Wildcats: Richardson throws down the gauntlet to fans

The public of Wakefield have been urged to consider if they want a Super League club – and what they are prepared to do to keep it.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats' future is in the balance after a series of financial blows over the past few weeks.

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An urgent plea has been issued to fans to raise 500,000 in a bid to "secure the immediate future of the club" – and chairman Ted Richardson said it is now up to Wakefield people to decide if Wildcats carry on.

If 500 people come forward with 1,000 each before the end of this month, they will be given an opportunity to form a new board and take over the running of the club.

Richardson – who is prevented from putting money into the club after entering an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) last year – insisted he is prepared to stand down, if new backers come forward.

He claimed one multi-millionaire had been on the point of taking the club over, but withdrew a month ago.

"Over the years people have said Ted Richardson wants to hang on to it," he said. "That is absolutely not true.

"I know what I have done and I am happy and proud to stand up for it. What are you prepared to do?

"Are there not 500 people in the Wakefield district who want the club to survive? How much is a club worth to you?

"On a morning, when we have beaten Bradford and Leeds occasionally, how much is that feeling worth? I want people to ask themselves that question. Wakefield lost it's rugby union club a few years ago and we are the only sporting body in Wakefield, if you discount Castleford.

"I know what we can and can't do and I want people to think about what they can do, then we will determine which way we want to go."

Richardson stopped short of saying the club would die if enough new investors do not come forward, but he admitted everything now hinges on planning permission being granted for a new stadium on the Newmarket site at Stanley.

The Government have called the plans in for a public inquiry – delaying a 350,000 cash injection, promised by the developer when planning permission is granted.

"We were promised a stadium by the council in Thornes Park," he recalled. "It is only about 18 months ago that they said that can't be done and we were thrown to the wolves.

"We have worked unbelievably hard to get where we are now, only for it to be held up by a minister who eventually will let it through.

"The club will survive when it gets planning permission for Newmarket."

Wildcats' board announced last summer that they would be prepared to step aside to make way for new investors.

Richardson said a multi-millionaire had been on the point of taking over the club, but withdrew his interest in December.

"Last May we asked if anyone was interested in joining the board," Richardson said.

"We had a potential investor who is worth 100m, but he refused about four weeks ago. He said he is not interested, having done seven weeks of due diligence.

"He told us he wanted to do it – I had offered to give him all my shares.

"Then we were told we (the planning application for the new stadium] had got called in.

"If those things had not happened in the last four weeks we would not be where we are now."

Richardson said he will be holding meeting with "various parties" this week, including the stadium developer.

Chief executive James Elston said yesterday Wildcats will take part in engage Super League, which kicks-off next month and still intend to apply for a licence for the 2012-14 seasons.

Pontus Jansson.

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