Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Drop from Championship may see York City Knights contracts ripped up
YORK City Knights’ first-teamers will be playing for their Huntington Stadium contracts tonight – and possibly those of the coaching staff.
That was the view of boss Gary Thornton ahead of the trip to Doncaster, where defeat will consign the Knights to the drop from Kingstone Press Championship. Victory would take the relegation scrap into the final weekend of the regular season.
Several of Thornton’s troops have signed deals for 2014 but it has been confirmed these all have get-out clauses for both sides – the club can renegotiate contracts on Championship One payments, while players can rip them up and try their luck elsewhere. Thornton, meanwhile, is yet to discuss his own position with chairman John Guildford should the club go down.
“They’re playing for the right to earn the contracts which become null and void if we lose,” said Thornton of his team.
“They’re playing to maintain that offer. It will be hard work if they decide they want to leave because I’m not sure what options will be out there as clubs have already spent much of their budgets.
“That adds to the importance of the game from an individual point of view. You don’t want to have the hassle of that merry-go-round.”
As for his own future, he said: “I’ve got a two-year contract and if we go down I wouldn’t walk away. I will do everything I can to help to restructure the club and get the chance to show we’re good enough to compete at Championship level.
“I’ve not sat down with John Guildford yet and I haven’t asked about that. I’m happy to see my contract through and, if John decides I’m not the man for the job, that’s his call.
“We’re just focusing on these next two games.
“If we do go down I will have to take my share of the blame. I’m the coach and there has to be blame at everyone’s door, including mine. I will review what I’ve done.
“I’m in the same boat as the players. We all have our reputations on the line and our futures on the line.
“I get bonuses depending on how well we do, same as the players. We’re all in a performance and results-driven industry. Contracts are built around that. If we don’t perform we don’t get what’s owed.”
To add to the uncertainty, the restructuring of professional rugby league ahead of 2015 leaves nobody yet knowing the format for next season. Both Super League and the Championship are to reduce from 14 to 12 clubs come 2015 while Toulouse are tipped to rejoin the Championship. That means five clubs could be dumped out of the Championship at the end of next season, maybe more if anyone is promoted from Championship One. If there is no promotion, that leaves Championship One in limbo.
Said Thornton: “It could be a long road back (to the Championship) and nobody knows yet what that path is.
“If we do go down, our main objective would be to restructure, regroup and give ourselves the chance to get back into that second tier.
“It might have to be a two or three-year plan rather than a one-year plan, and until we know what the road is we can’t plan.
“If they’re going to lose four or five from the Championship at the end of next season, it will be tough to stay up next year and get in that 12.
“There are just no clear guidelines yet from the Rugby Football League, so it’s difficult to plan.
“But they can’t just drop you out of the Championship and forget about you.”
As for the likelihood of there being promotion from Championship One in 2014, Thornton added: “The only way I think it could be feasible is if, say, the bottom five in next year’s Championship and the top one in Championship One go into a six-team play-off to determine who gets that 12th place in the 2015 Championship.
“Once they’ve done the restructuring, promotion and relegation should be easy.
The season I’m worried about is 2014, before the restructuring comes in, and if there’s no route back into the second tier.
“We just need to focus on the Doncaster game and to give ourselves a chance of staying up this year.
“It’s a scary time in terms of what the future is and how we should plan.
“The bottom line, though, is we don’t want to be relegated. Nobody wants that on their CV.”
Comments are closed on this article.