Pre-season training put back to August 13
AFTER last week’s liquidation bombshell, Rugby Lions have been summoned to a meeting at Twickenham tomorrow afternoon (Friday).
Former chairman David Owen is understood to be attending the meeting with the Rugby Football Union and National Clubs Association.
It is not known whether Mike Aland - who took over the club from owner David Owen last summer but had not completed the purchase - will also be attending.
The company Mr Aland set up to run the Lions called The Rugby Football Club (2011) Ltd is being wound-up, with many players and staff still owed thousands of pounds.
The proceedings were instigated by Genesis Group International Ltd which supplied kit and is owed £70,000.
An RFU spokesman confirmed that the meeting will hope to establish exactly what has happened and the club’s plans for the future, but any sanctions such as penalty points may not be decided at that stage.
On the playing front, pre-season training which had been scheduled to resume on Monday has now been put back to August 13.
Players have been asked to confirm their status and to start preparing for pre-season conditioning.
A spokesman said they are currently preparing the pitch and negotiating with other providers of training facilities in readiness for when players return for a period of intensive training.
The season starts on September 1 when Lions have a home game against Worthing in National League 2 (South). Lions were promoted as champions from National League 3 (Midlands) in April, having won every game.
But since then head coach Neil Back has gone and it is not known how many players will be staying on.
Coach Mark Ellis has taken over the running of the first team but is still not able to comment.
The club released a statement on Tuesday:
RUGBY LIONS STATEMENT July 24
At this time we are concluding the ﬁnancial structure that will ensure the settlement of all debts for the Rugby Football Club (2011) Ltd, ensure the funding is available for the club for the up coming season and ensure the long term success of the club and the development of the new ground.
“During difficult economic times we have worked diligently to complete the transactions that will ensure the above happens.
“The release of sensitive information that was shared with players and staff to provide conﬁdence in the venture has led to delays and in some instances has derailed plans that were being put in place.
“As we work towards completion, no further information will be released outside the senior management team who are working hand in hand with Michael Aland to complete the plans which will ensure the five to seven-year plan for the Rugby Lions’ future.
“At this time we would like to thank all those that continue to support the management team and the supporters that have helped make the past season such a massive success. We ask that you bear with us while we work to complete our goals.”
The statement was also read to a meeting of Supporters Club members that evening, who had asked for information.
Having read the statement Fred McKenzie, acting club steward, also answered questions on behalf of the club.
One fact he was able to tell supporters is that only two players have officially left the club as only two have asked for their registrations to be transferred.
These are Ade Hales, who has gone to Aberdeen and Andy Vilk, who has returned to play in Italy.
But, as our story mentioned last week, that’s not to say others aren’t training with other clubs and it is widely rumoured that many of last year’s first team have other plans for next season.
Mr McKenzie was also able to tell the meeting that coach Mark Ellis is planning to run both a first and second team this season.
And although the first team may make a slow start due to the late formation of the squad in pre-season, he said they will be able to compete well and be challenging for promotion.
He also said work will start on the pitch this week so that it is ready for the first home game.
The Mini and Junior section have stressed that despite what is happening with the senior club, it is very much business as usual for them.
Press officer Chris Hartny-Mills said: “We operate independently to the adult club, we are self sufficient and are financially independent.
“We have our own constitution and pay for the use of facilities and pitches etc. Obviously, it is easier when the adult teams are having success as this makes recruitment easier and there are shared benefits.
“We are in good shape. We have nearly 200 members in the Minis and Juniors aged 7 up to under 16.
“Above that we have two solid squads that will produce two good teams for this season, the U17s and the U18 and 19s called the Colts.”
And the U17s and the Colts have been attending weekly training for the past two weeks.
Mr Hartny-Mills added: “The U17s have entered the U17’s league for next season.
“All of the forthcoming season’s fixtures are in place for all other age groups. We have a Mini’s festival organised to take place in October which will contribute to the junior club’s finances.
“A lot of the important ground work for that has been done so we will be well prepared when the time comes. In addition we have a successful, one year old ladies team, called the Lionesses and commenced training younger girls of school age on Sunday mornings.”