Dewsbury Rams chairman Mark Sawyer believes their potential ground development will hold the key to the club’s future.
In February, the Championship outfit teamed up with property developers Stirling Scotfield to unveil plans for a huge residential development on land adjacent to the Tetley’s Stadium.
The proposal included more than 200 new houses and a 60bed care home on the disused former tip and colliery site between Owl Lane and Wakefield Road.
The Rams would benefit from two new multiuse games area pitches, a floodlit training paddock and, potentially, a brandnew west stand within the current stadium.
A public consultation has been ongoing for the past two months and is likely to continue until the end of May before a planning application can be submitted.
Sawyer insists the club is in a “stable” financial position but admits its longterm success could be decided by the end of 2012.
“We’ve always said that ground development is essential but by no means is it a cry for help,” said the Dewsbury chief.
“However, our future, in terms of success, could well be decided this year. In order for us to progress further we have to develop the land at the side of the stadium.
“The plans are going through a consultation stage before an application can be submitted in June. The council have obviously got to say whether or not they are in favour of the idea or not.
“We are the main sporting club in Dewsbury and expansion will bring with it new income streams and therefore allow us to increase the number of services which we can provide for the community along with our own budget.
“It would allow us to become an even more competitive Championship side and that, obviously, brings added bonuses.
“As a club we’re heading in the right direction both on and off the field. We’re financially stable and we’re continuing to get by.”
While the financial spotlight remains firmly fixed on rugby league’s top flight, following the cash crisis at Bradford Bulls, Sawyer says fans have little reason to worry as Dewsbury continue to operate a tight ship, without the use of an overdraft.
Sawyer, however, has paid tribute to Super League side Bradford, who are facing administration unless they can raise a further £500,000 by the end of April after the Royal Bank of Scotland significantly reduced their overdraft, and revealed that the club has never borrowed from banks during his tenure as chairman.
“Bradford Bulls are one of the best run clubs in rugby league,” he said. The only thing they are guilty of is not having a millionaire benefactor like others. Those sort of people are currently propping up rugby league’s powerhouses.
“We don’t have an overdraft facility on our account and we borrow nothing from the banks.
“Overdrafts don’t just apply for sports clubs but, for us, we don’t feel it is wise to be in a position where something like that would need annually renewing. Our fans simply don’t have to worry about us having the rug pulled from beneath our feet.
“We have survived on nointerest loans from shareholders and directors.
“We are currently working within a budget and we’re on course to break even at the end of the season.
“Spending has become out of control in Super League and for a period it was like that in the Championship. However, in recent seasons, spending in the lower leagues has steadied somewhat.
“We sold over 500 season tickets for this season and the £15,000 cash bonus from Eric France has underpinned the 2012 budget, while giving Warren (Jowitt) some extra cash to spend on the squad.
“It’s helped us get over the loss of Nick Fozzard. It was a huge blow for us to have to lose him to injury, he was our major signing for this year and he had to be replaced.
“It also goes towards helping us prepare for next season too. There will be 26 matches in 2013 and that is already is proving difficult in terms of how it will be dealt with financially as there is talk of a reduction in central funding.”
Meanwhile, in June of this year, the Rams are set to make their final repayment on a brewery loan, which will free up further funds ahead of the 2013 campaign.