A NEW era has dawned at Keighley Cougars with the aim of making the club more sustainable, according to its general manager Steve Gill.

The former Castleford Tigers chief executive officer, who walked into Cougar Park as part of a takeover in July, says the club now needs to move on and win back the trust of the people of Keighley.

Under the new set-up, Simon Harrison will head up the club's commercial operations, while Neil Cullen will become Cougars' chief executive officer. Both left their posts as Cougars directors earlier this month.

Gill concedes it has been a year of turmoil for Cougars. The Betfred League One side were taken over by Austria Holdings, an off-shore investment company/portfolio, in July and are the club's major shareholders.

This followed Cougars revealing its financial crisis earlier that month. The Cougar Park club revealed it just avoided going out of business after players' contracts had been met, their bank balance stood at just £34.23. It was looking to raise £45,000 to see the club through for the rest of the league season.

But Gill, 59, said it was time for everyone to 'draw a line' under a 'year or so of turmoil'.

He said: "We need to make sure the club is sustainable. It's a new era. We will look to put everything that has happened behind us now. If we are all together, this club will go from strength to strength.

"This club has had some really good times in the past. Long-term we want to get back into the Championship, but there will be a period where we have to make sure everything is sustainable before moving forward.

"I don't want the owners to just be a cash cow, putting loads of money into it.

"There are some good people here that really want it to go well.

"I sympathise with fans who said we had to come out with a statement. This is a new era and you will hear rumours, that's nature, that's life. We will look to put it behind us and put out a balanced, sustainable business and a competitive team.

"We just need to get rid of the small team's mentality that we seem to have adopted. We have got to have a Super League-style mentality. We want to be a family club again.

"We want to produce a club that people want to come and watch.

"Players-wise, we will keep the nucleus of the players that want to stay with us. We have seven or eight new players who have agreed terms with us and we are just waiting to announce them. I think we need a couple of older heads mixed with young, enthusiastic players. If we can get a good mix, we can do really well next year.

"We have had to let some players go to freshen things up. Some were asking for more than we could afford. We wish them all the best. Players will come and players will go.

"We will aim to be in the top four of League One next year. If we get there, that's great. The squad that we have put together for next year is capable of the top four."

Gill also paid tribute to Cougars head coach Craig Lingard, praising he and his staff's loyalty throughout the club's turbulent times.

Gill revealed around eight new signings are waiting in the wings to be announced for next year's squad, which is expected to total up to 25 players.

The first of these names is Jack Miller, who arrives at Cougar Park on a one-year deal from League One rivals Doncaster after spending three seasons at the Keepmoat Stadium.

During his time with the Dons, the half-back found his chances restricted but still went on to make nearly 50 appearances for the club during his career in South Yorkshire.

Earlier in his career, the 23-year-old was signed full-time as an 18-year-old by Super League side Huddersfield Giants, where he would make a sole first team appearance in a defeat to the Bradford Bulls at the conclusion of the 2013 season.

After leaving the Giants, Miller spent two years in Australia playing for the Queanbeyan Kangaroos who compete in the Canberra Raiders Cup.

His first year in Australia in 2015 saw Miller pick up the Les McIntyre Medal for being the competition’s Player of the Year.

Miler, known for his kicking game, more than played his part once more in 2016 as the club lifted the Minor Premiership before returning to England to follow in the footsteps of his father Tony and sign with Doncaster.

Miller said: “When I sat down with Steve Gill and Craig Lingard, they sold me their vision for the club and explained the style of play and it was just a perfect fit.

“I’m coming here to be playing every week and that was a big factor in my decision to join the club.

“I want to get some consistency in my game and as a player I’m a controlling half back with a good kicking game and I’m looking forward to getting started with the Cougars.”

Meanwhile, Hemel Stags have withdrawn from the Betfred League One competition for the 2019 season, with a view to returning in 2020.

At this stage there are no plans for them to be replaced in Betfred League One in 2019, meaning the fixture list is being drawn up for an 11-team competition.