Wakefield unlikely to find new owner before going into administration
Andy Wilson guardian.co.uk,
Monday 24 January 2011 18.02 GMT
The Wakefield Trinity Wildcats head coach John Kear says he wants to sign players on loan to reinforce his front row. Photograph: Ed Sykes/Action Images
Wakefield Trinity have had approaches from four potential buyers since they were served with a third winding-up order for unpaid taxes last week, although they concede that any takeover deal is unlikely to come quickly enough to avert a move into administration.
That would be a blow to Trinity's fading hopes of securing the licence necessary to preserve their stay in the Super League beyond the end of this season, although the embarrassing prospect that they might not make the 2011 kick‑off in Cardiff next month now seems to be fading.
"There is some good news on the way," said James Elston, the former Dewsbury hooker who has turned to firefighting since being appointed Wakefield's chief executive last year. "I can't say much about the next step, but we've had interest from four different people, and there is a lot at the club that's going to change."
Elston conceded that Trinity would be a more attractive proposition if and when administrators are appointed to tackle debts that run well into six figures – including around £300,000 in unpaid VAT and National Insurance that led to the latest winding-up order from HM Revenue & Customs, which is due to be heard at the high court on 2 February.
But he insisted they still plan to apply for a new licence to play in the Super League from 2012, as all clubs are required to do – even though at this stage they do not have a stadium, after their plans for a new development at Newmarket were recently called in for a public inquiry.
"In terms of the other criteria – community development, and commercial support – we're very strong and punch above our weight. We're in discussions with Barnsley about using their stadium at Oakwell in our application, which will meet the Super League standards."
Wakefield are banned from signing players because of their financial predicament, but after a meeting with Rugby Football League officials in Leeds tomorrow Elston hopes they will be given permission to make the loan signings that are desperately needed before they start the season with a derby against Castleford as part of the Millennium Magic weekend on 12 February.
"If you look at the squad, it's obvious the front row is the area we're most deficient in," said John Kear, the club's long-serving coach. "We've only got four specialist props, two of whom are very young and one is out injured."
Harlequins, another of the teams expected to struggle this season, have made two potentially significant additions to their squad. Karl Pryce, the former Bradford and Gloucester rugby union three-quarter, has joined the London club on an indefinite loan period from Wigan with Joe Mellor, a promising half-back.