HALIFAX chairman Michael Steele has confirmed the Co-operative Championship champions remain committed to regaining their Super League place, despite his “anger” at today’s licencing announcement at Old Trafford.
In a shock decision, RFL bosses kept top flight strugglers Wakefield - a club that was in administration in the spring and whose Belle Vue ground does not meet licence criteria - in the competition.
Outpost club Crusaders, who had been widely considered to be safe given their reputed £700k debt to the game’s governing body after being bailed out following their own financial collapse, will now be the team to drop out, although their exact fate remains a mystery.
“As a club, we cannot conceive how they have come to this decision,” said Steele.
“Wakefield have broken the rules repeatedly; we have not.
“On every rational evaluation of the licence criteria, our bid is streets ahead of Wakefield’s.
“We have a ground, they don’t have a ground. We haven’t been bankrupt, they’ve been bankrupt.
“It seems a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned that if it’s between Halifax and Wakefield - Halifax are in and Wakefield should not be in.
“They’ve broken the terms of their existing licence, so why give them another one?
“But this club belongs at the very top of the game of the game and we remain committed to getting it there.”
Wakefield were docked four points at the start of the current season for going into administration and it was thought that the financial troubles would count against their application.
Steele said: “I’d ask him (RFL chairman Richard Lewis), ‘what is the point of having rules if you don’t comply with them?’
He added: “The only counter-argument I can see is that somebody new has arrived in Wakefield in the last six months and he’s got to be given a chance to prove that he’s going to do what he says he’s going to do.
“The difference here is that we’ve had people here for more years who’ve done what they’ve said they are going to do. We’ve got a track record and he hasn’t.”
Lewis refused to reveal details of each club’s application but assured Steele that he would explain the reasoning behind the RFL’s decision to refuse Halifax’s bid.
“I’m not going to get into any particular licence application, they are private and confidential,” Lewis said.
“What we will do is we’ll sit down with Halifax and we’ll explain what the weaknesses were in their application and what was found wanting and where other clubs put in a stronger case.”
More reaction in tomorrow’s Courier Sport