Halifax seem certain to lose influential back rower Dane Manning to Championship rivals Batley as the result of close-season cost cutting.
A failure to qualify for the Super 8s Qualifiers, coupled with disastrous gate receipts during the lacklustre end of season Championship Shield, had left the club struggling to balance the books, with coach Richard Marshall’s two assistants Chris Rose and Marlon Billy, who did not have their contracts renewed, the most obvious casualties until now.
Fax have now confirmed they asked to renegotiate the playing contracts of all their first team squad and coaching staff, with a 10 per cent cut in wages - which would then be added to bonus payments if Richard Marshall’s side make the top four for a second time in three seasons - on the table.
Late on Thursday night, Fax officials told Courier Sport that “80 per cent” of the squad had already put pen to paper on revised terms, with Manning currently the only player to have flatly refused.
The former Batley player’s recruitment was trumpeted by the Bulldogs on Thursday, although with the player still contracted at the Shay for 2017 - Fax have not yet formally agreed to release him - that announcement seemed premature.
It seems inevitable that Manning will be allowed to leave though, with club officials highlighting the obvious impact on squad morale of making any exceptions.
“After having a meeting with the players, all of them but one, Dane Manning, have taken a voluntary 10 per cent pay cut to their playing wages, recognising the consequences of a very disappointing 2016,” said Marshall in a statement released on Friday morning.
“Dane has requested to leave and has been in conversation with the club over the past 72 hours.
“We have done everything in our power to persuade Dane to stay, including offering him an extra year on his contract.
“Dane has been a stand out performer for Halifax during my time here, but he was adamant that he would not be playing his rugby at Halifax in 2017.
“In the light of those conversations, I had to make a judgement call regarding Dane and it looks like he will be leaving us.
“I would like to stress that no player is bigger than the club and I would urge fans to focus on those who have chosen to stay and remain loyal to the club and its values.
“The rest of the squad are fully on board and looking forward to the new season and in truth we feel this situation has galvanised the squad and made them even tighter.”
Manning’s decision is not believed to be solely financial, with the Bulldogs’ Mount Pleasant ground close to his home.