RUGBY fans have united to provide a welcome cash boost to their crisis-hit club – and are looking for other fans to help.
Supporters of Leigh Centurions have stepped up their fund-raising efforts after off-field problems left the club facing an uphill struggle to secure its financial future.
Leigh Independent Supporters Association (LISA) have organised dozens of events including poker nights and weekly forecast competitions, with the proceeds going towards paying the players’ wage bill.
And season ticket holder Stephen Morris, 42, has produced his own Leigh-themed handkerchiefs which have proven such a hit with fans that they have already sold out.
Sixty hankies, which display Centurions’ badge and the motto “our town, our dream, our team”, have been snapped up by supporters, raising almost £200 for the club.
Stephen, of Hurst Street, Leigh, said: “We need fans to step up to the mark and help ensure our club will survive. Some people aren’t grasping how dire the situation is.
“I produced similar hankies for England’s RL World Cup campaign and we even asked Ian Millward to wear one of the hankies when he first came to Leigh.”
Fellow supporter Ian Colbert has organised a poker night at the Centurion pub in Leigh every Tuesday, and Derek Halliwell runs LISA’s weekly forecast competition.
Both events have raised hundreds of pounds to go towards paying players’ wages and ensuring the club can attract the best talent.
Coach Ian Millward and his players have also agreed to appear in a new comedy play at Leigh Miners Club, in Kirby Road, Leigh, after their match against York on August 14.
Lynda Pike, secretary of LISA, said: “Everybody seems to be pulling together to help the club. People know that 100 per cent of the money raised by LISA goes towards players’ wages rather than paying off any debts.”
Centurions are battling to be in a safe financial position to convince the RFL of their viability as a possible Super League club.
But work is ongoing to try and attract the right type of investors into the club and to keep the club on track for a Northern Rail Cup and Championship Grand Final.
The Centurions lost both their chairman and main backer Arthur Thomas plus chief executive Allan Rowley in the last few weeks.
The two losses are linked in that Mr Rowley was seconded to the post from his job at former chairman Arthur Thomas’ company.
But due to circumstances beyond the control of Mr Thomas, his businesses Concrete TS Ltd and AWT Painters ceased to trade and employees including Mr Rowley and Mr Thomas’ own sons Darren and Andrew became redundant.
This was followed by a three League point deduction for a salary cap breach.
Trevor Barton MBE was recently appointed as Centurions’ acting chief executive.