Ground talks with RFL

Date published: Friday, September 26, 2014
OLDHAM are talking with the RFL about where they will play next season if they win promotion to the Championship.
Club chairman Chris Hamilton has confirmed that, at present, Whitebank doesn’t meet minimum standards, which have been raised significantly for the 2015 season.
Speaking last night on BBC Radio Manchester, he said it was his job as chairman to make sure that if the team earned the right to go up that is what would happen.
There has been speculation within the game that if the RFL blocked the Roughyeds’ move up the ladder because of their ground issues it would enable them to keep Keighley in the Championship and thus sidestep the Cougars’ legal action.
Batley and Doncaster each had three points deducted for fielding ineligible players, but they were later reinstated, which contributed to Keighley’s relegation on the last day of the regular season.
Cougars then started legal proceedings against the sport’s governing body.
Said Hamilton: “I would have made myself a rich man this week if I had taken £1 from every person, including journalists and people within the sport, who suggested that if Oldham didn’t go up it would provide the RFL with a solution to the Keighley problem.
“Suffice to say, I have the utmost faith in the RFL to make the right decision. 
“Minimum standards have been hiked up for next season, to such an extent that each ground must have 1,500 seats.
“But most clubs below Super League are struggling to get four-figure crowds, so there has to be an element of realism in setting standards, doesn’t there ?”
Hamilton, meanwhile, has responded angrily to suggestions from the York camp that Lewis Palfrey’s biting allegation could have been a put-up job.
Palfrey, Oldham’s captain, made a complaint against York’s Jack Lee, their captain, that he was bitten in the later stages of the Roughyeds’ 31-12 play-off win at Huntington Stadium.
Backed by his coach Gary Thornton, Lee strenuously denied it, after which came the widely-reported suggestion in the York papers, said to be from the club, that Palfrey’s claim could be part of a ploy to unsettle Lee or get him banned for the remainder of the play-off series.
Lee said: “I don’t know if its a tactic to stop me playing in the next round.”
Thornton said: “Is it victimisation ? That would make me angry if those are their tactics. It’s just wrong.
“Given how well they played, do they need to do that ?”
Countered Hamilton: “The integrity of Lewis Palfrey and of the Oldham club have been questioned, and I find that bitterly disappointing.
“We have provided photographic evidence to back up Lewis’s allegation and the RFL have deemed it to be worthy of an investigation, which has now been opened.
“To even think that this could be a deliberate ploy is almost laughable.
“No rugby player, in the heat of battle in a match with a lot riding on it, would try to ‘fix’ something like that and to even think like that is incredulous.
“We were well on top and well in the lead, which makes me think the quality of performance by our coaching and playing staff has got them rattled.
“We will not stand by and let anybody cast aspersions on the integrity of our club and of its captain.”