“I’m really fearful over the future of Keighley Cougars. It is an absolute mess. I can’t see Keighley Cougars starting next season.”
These words from Craig Lingard will shake the fans of Betfred League One’s Keighley to their very core after their head coach departed his role at the club, saying that he hasn’t been paid by the Cougars for the last five and a half months. “I tended my resignation on Saturday and said I could not continue as long as the players were owed money. I never walked away from a contract as a player,” he told the media as revelations surrounding players having not been paid emerged. “It has been one thing after another, there is always an excuse why the money has not gone in. It came to a point when I couldn’t take it anymore,” he added.
It is believed that players and other club employees are awaiting payment for up to three months of wages and, with no head coach to go with the clear financial difficulties, the future of the League One club is far from certain. As well as Lingard’s departure, Steve Gill – only with the club since late summer – is also set to step down from his general manager role at the club while Simon Harrison, Neil Cullen and Garry Schofield have already departed their roles as directors and ambassadors respectively.
Ritchie Hawkyard, a player with the club since 2016 but who will be wearing Oldham’s shirt in 2019, shed light on the plight of the club, revealing that money promised didn’t materialise. “They keep on lying to us and giving us false promises. Two weeks ago, they sent us all cheques but they all bounced,” he told the media.“They banging our heads against the wall now and we don’t know who to go to because we’ve tried places already. They’ve also not paid anyone’s taxes all year but have been taking it off us.”
While Keighley haven’t made any official comment since the comments of Lingard and Hawkyard were made public, it is likely that a statement will be released in the near future.