Halifax RLFC: Lack of backer can be a plus - Croad

HALIFAX'S commercial director Ian Croad has highlighted the club's lack of reliance on a millionaire benefactor as a potentially positive aspect of their bid for Super League membership.

Fax have lacked top-table financial clout since the controversial exit of backer Tony Gartland in the mid-1990s.

And while that has been a major factor in their various financial crises since then, Croad believes the club's current position could actually work in their favour.

The Northowram-based entrepreneur stopped short of naming names, but his comparison with Widnes - Fax's major rivals for a Super League licence when the Rugby Football League make the announcement at the end of March and funded by transport mogul Steve O'Connor - seemed clear enough.

"One of our strengths is that we are not financially dependent on one individual," said Croad, who also alluded to the chaos caused at the erstwhile Celtic Crusaders when chairman Leighton Samuel pulled the plug.

"That person can have an illness, lose interest, have an affair – anything – and we've seen what happens to clubs if that happens.

"We now have a board of four directors and a vice presidents club of about half a dozen people underneath that, who can support the club without the legal connection to being a director.

"They help to underpin the club and the financial burden is much more spread.

"This financial year we have made a profit, and it's a true trading profit that doesn't take into account one individual putting a lump of money in.

"There is no overdraft at the club because of the previous situation here.

"In previous years the club has spent far too much money on the first team and not run a second team, but that was done with the target of winning a Grand Final or the Northern Rail Cup.

"People often run sports clubs with their heart, but that doesn't happen here now, this club is run as a business."

The upshot was that Croad, who sits on the club's four-man board alongside chairman Michael Steele, Mike Riley and new marketing boss Tony Abbott - insisted Widnes' elevation is not as certain as most observers believe.

"Realistically Widnes are favourites, there is no denying that," he said.

"But what I would say is don't take your eyes off Halifax, because it isn't a done deal yet."