YORK City Knights are on the brink of folding due to its troubled groundshare with York City, in the latest twist in the community stadium saga.
The rugby league club is taking legal advice claiming City of York Council has breached its contract for the team to use Bootham Crescent, although it remains “hopeful” a resolution can be found.
It follows the cancellation of the Knights’ opening Super 8s clash against Doncaster on Sunday.
The council said in March that stadium construction was due to start this summer and a spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the start had been listed as August/September for some time, “dependent upon contract close, and is still proposed to start in that timescale”.
As The Press has reported, the Knights were told they cannot use Bootham Crescent for Sunday’s key match due to three football friendlies in the same week, on the grounds the pitch would suffer. There are also issues over two of the Knights’ three other forthcoming Super 8s fixtures.
The Knights have a contract with the council to play matches at Bootham Crescent until both pro clubs move into the new community stadium, which is to be built on the site of the club’s old home at Huntington.
The council has a separate contract with the football club for rugby matches to take place there.
It had been hoped Sunday’s game between the two promotion rivals in League One could be switched to Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium but it has instead been called off.
A council spokeswoman said it could not comment on any possible legal action by the club.
She said the authority had agreements with York City and the Knights relating to the use of Bootham Crescent, which was subject to certain conditions, including whether a football match had taken place the day before and the impact on the playing surface.
“It’s regrettable that the Knights cannot play at Bootham this weekend,” she said, repeating a previous statement.
“However, they were first informed that this would be the case at the beginning of May this year, well before any fixtures had been finalised. This was subsequently confirmed on several occasions during June and July.”
She said the issue was the pitch use and the turnaround time in marking lines and clearing up after one fixture ready for the next.
She said there was meant to be at least a day between fixtures for the sake of the pitch, although the council accepted the agreement with the Knights said there had to be “24 hours” between fixtures.
She said it had been confirmed to the Knights at a number of meetings that Sunday games could not be played after a Saturday match.
City had agreed to back-to-back fixtures twice before as a gesture of goodwill because they were big games for the Knights, which led to a great deal of additional work for the football club, she said.
She added that other fixtures were still being agreed between the three parties and the council was hopeful of a positive resolution.
A Knights spokesman said: “The Knights are taking legal advice regarding breaches of contract and factually incorrect statements made in the media by City of York Council.
“The council’s licence agreement with York City reserves the use of Bootham Crescent for Knights matches on Fridays and Sundays. The only stipulation to that is a Friday game cannot take place if York City have a match on the Saturday.
“We have fulfilled all the clauses and conditions as per our contract. Unfortunately the council has not followed contract procedures correctly.
“The club is hopeful an amicable resolution can yet be achieved but has had no official correspondence from the council.”
A Rugby Football League spokesperson said: “As with any club in difficulty, the RFL will work closely with York City Knights to assist them with the issues they are currently facing.
"We have spoken to the club today and will continue to work closely with them over the coming days as they speak with all stakeholders involved in an attempt to work through the situation.”