Keighley Cougars chief: Staying up is crucial

Gary Fawcett

Gary Fawcett

First published in Sport
Last updated

Cougars chairman Gary Fawcett has stressed the importance of surviving relegation this season ahead of a major restructure of the domestic game in 2015.

The bottom five teams in the Championship will go down at the end of the season and Cougars are precariously placed in the final relegation spot following last weekend’s defeat at Leigh.

It was their third straight defeat and Fawcett knows they must stop the rot ahead of Sunday’s home clash with surprise package Doncaster.

Championship clubs will receive an increased distribution of central monies next season and staying this season would encourage hopes of pushing for promotion to Super League.

With that in mind, Fawcett accepts the prospect of being demoted to the third tier is unthinkable.

The Cougar Park supremo said: “The nine teams that survive in the Championship this season, plus the one club promoted from Championship 1, will receive a significantly-enhanced income.

“This will enable these clubs to deliver an even better product to rugby league supporters and the golden prize of achieving Super League status will spur most of the clubs on to improve.

“It's exciting times for the Championship but Championship 1 is a different story altogether.

“There is no increase in monies within Championship 1 for next season and the teams are geographically disparate.

“Furthermore, there will be some very good teams trying to get out of Championship 1 and into the promised land of the Championship.

“Relegation from the Championship means less resources in the face of fierce competition – in a nutshell, not a nice place to be.”

Should Cougars beat the drop, they will face Bradford and London Broncos next term but their immediate focus is on this weekend’s visit of Doncaster.

After three successive defeats at the hands of Halifax, Workington and Leigh, Fawcett knows Cougars must arrest their slide and return to winning ways.

He is confident they can produce the goods in the coming weeks, adding: “We've had a poor run of form over the last three games and it's time to put that behind us.

“The league is very tight and a string of wins will put us in a strong position.

“We need to make this happen, and we can make it happen, as we certainly want to be playing Bradford Bulls at Cougar Park next season - what a derby game that would be!”

Player-coach Paul March could have a full-strength squad at his disposal.

Danny Jones came through last weekend’s defeat at Leigh with no adverse reaction to a recent hamstring strain.

Jode Sheriffe will be available after missing the Leigh game with a knee injury and Luke Haigh should return at hooker.

Cougars’ Under-20s side face Leigh at home tonight at Cougar Park (7.30pm kick-off).

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