THE owners of Keighley Cougars have been given the next few days to reveal their plans to the Rugby Football League.

If majority shareholder Austria Holdings fail to satisfy the RFL that they can take the club forward, the sport's governing body say they will "have a decision to make".

Cougars remain in special measures, which were imposed last November after wages went unpaid, which embargoes the club from signing any new players.

A deadline imposed to allow Keighley to draft in a squad of 17 players on trialist forms has been extended for a second time until Thursday, January 24. The RFL is set to hold a board meeting on January 23. The original 28-day deadline expired on January 8.

With a month until their Betfred League One campaign is due to begin at Whitehaven, time is running out for Keighley to field a team.

An RFL statement said: "The RFL recognises that the last few months have been a worrying and frustrating time for everyone involved with the Keighley club.

"Considerable efforts are being made to secure a positive outcome, but these are sensitive and unfortunately we are unable to share any details.

"We recognise that there is an urgent need for clarity about the club’s future."

The RFL's pressure comes after a takeover bid for Cougars was rejected last weekend.

A financial offer for the club from a consortium led by Cougarmania era figures Mick O'Neill and Mike Smith, for an undisclosed fee, was refused by Austria Holdings representative Shane Spencer last weekend.

O'Neill, speaking to the Keighley News from Australia, said: "For us to offer them a brass penny was hard to do, but we did so in the hope this sorry mess could be put to bed, and the club could move on.

"I phoned Shane Spencer twice, he called me back at 3am Australian time. I called him over the weekend. I made the offer to him and he said 'not a chance, not a chance, not a chance' and then he put the phone down. I'm not going to mess about."

O'Neill said he would not be increasing that bid but added: "We are definitely not going away. We want to return, without a doubt, no question about it. I am waiting in the wings now for something to happen.

"I'm still determined to take over Cougars. I'm not giving in. I am fighting the cause.

"There will be no more bids from us to them. We offered a sum and that's it. It breaks my heart what's going on at the Cougars. It's an awful situation."

Spencer, of Austria Holdings, did not wish to comment when contacted by the Keighley News.

Meanwhile, Keighley Cougars Supporters' Club are scheduled to hold a meeting on Thursday, January 31. It will take place at Keighley Cricket Club, Hard Ings Road, from 7.30pm.