Waiting game on Knights coaching set-up

York City Knights boss Gary Thornton, right, with player-coach James Ford, left

York City Knights boss Gary Thornton, right, with player-coach James Ford, left

First published in Sport
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CHAIRMAN John Guildford says Gary Thornton's future at York City Knights will not depend purely on promotion - though he confirmed any new contract offer would only be decided at the end of the season.

Thornton's current two-year deal as head coach runs out this winter and, having been charged with getting the club straight back up to the Championship after relegation last season, speculation is rife that it will not be renewed if the Knights fail to win the Championship One Grand Final on October 5.

Guildford, however, says nothing is cut and dried either way - although he did suggest cutbacks would have to be made in the coaching set-up if they did not get out of rugby league's "graveyard tier". Currently, Thornton is assisted by James Ford and Mick Ramsden, with conditioners and physios also in the boot room, but it seems unlikely all would remain.

Asked if Thornton would be shown the door if he failed to take the club up, Guildford said: "That is not the case. A decision on that has not been made at this moment in time.

"If we do not go up, the whole club would have to be restructured. Gary would be part of the group of people who would sit down and look at that, and we would go from there."

He added: "One of the concerns is if we're in this division again next year we would have to do some savings and those savings would have to come from all areas."

Thornton - whose team top the table after five straight wins and face a mouth-watering clash with second-placed Oldham at Huntington Stadium on Sunday - says he is concentrating only on what happens on the field.

"My focus is on getting promotion," he said. "I know I'm in the last year of my contract. My objective is to get the club promoted. The players are the same.

"People want to know what's happening (next year), but I have to stay focussed on promotion. We can't be distracted by anything else.

"I'm employed by York City Knights and I will do my damnedest to get the club promoted. I've been given an objective and told what we need to achieve, and we have to go about doing that.

"There is no prize for second best in this league this year. There's one prize and that's for winning the Grand Final."

Meanwhile, Guildford confirmed the Knights had planned ahead for the recent absence of match-day income and were financially "all right".

Switching the home match against London Skolars 12 days ago to the capital in order to avoid a clash with Tour de France festivities in York gave the Knights their longest run of consecutive away fixtures for a decade.

They won all four matches, culminating in Sunday's victory over Oxford, but five weeks without a home game meant they had little cash coming in to cover the cost of long journeys south as well as winning pay.

Attendances at Huntington Stadium this season have also been lower than expected ahead of Sunday's table-top clash.

"We knew about these four away games and obviously planned ahead," said Guildford.

"There's only so much you can do (as regards budgeting for the season). You have to estimate how many (spectators) you think will come in before you know what you can spend.

"People kept telling me there'd be a difference when we're winning, that people would come back, but that's not really happened yet.

"Hopefully more people can come and cheer us on as we head towards the play-offs.

"We're all right, though. Financially we're okay. You have to deal with what you've got. There are things you can do if you get more money in. If you get less money, you have to cut things back."

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