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Rugby League: Have Featherstone fans got their club back?
Michael Griffiths and Simon Barraclough
"It will all end in tears," some Featherstone Rovers Rugby League football club supporters said when news broke of major new investors and signings at the club. Months later, majority "B" shareholder Feisal Nahaboo and chief executive Craig Poskitt walked away from the club.
Featherstone, a small ex-mining community, is proud of its professional rugby league team. The smallest town in Britain to have one, Rovers won the game's biggest prize, the challenge cup, at Wembley stadium three times. It produces local youngsters and causes upsets against more fashionable clubs.
At a packed fans forum after Feisal and Craig's departure, Rovers chairman Mark Campbell reported concerns about apparent inaccurate financial information being presented by the finance director and Feisal's attempt to take over an elected board. The fallout led to legal threats and then Feisal's departure.
Fans raised questions on the club's financial plight after the departure of the majority shareholder. Feisal's shares are owned by Probiz Excellence Limited. Probiz (and its sister companies) offer "a range of added-value solutions for business owners and individuals from general accountancy to business advisory services to wealth management opportunities," says its website.
Despite threats of winding up orders, however, the club is not on the verge of financial collapse. The chairman stressed that the club does not have to buy back the shares Probiz acquired. Campbell also pointed out that all full and part time player contracts already signed will be honoured.
Campbell's answers seemed to reassure fans. The club is a limited company but many major decisions are still in the fans' control, who can own one "A" share each. The fans control the land the club owns and elects representatives onto the board.
And although Featherstone Rovers may not have the money to make the club a force in the game again, we've been through hard times before and will again pull through by our own efforts together.
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