YORK-BORN businesswoman Joanne Dickenson has joined the York City Knights board of directors - and she comes with a ringing endorsement from Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain legend Jamie Peacock.

The appointment was announced at the Knights' fans' forum held at their York St John University sports campus training base in Haxby Road.

Dickenson is the wife of Gary Dickenson, who was in talks to take over the club from former owner John Guildford last year before the consortium headed up by Jon Flatman acquired control.

Peacock, now director of rugby at Hull KR, said: "I have known Jo for some time and her knowledge of and passion for rugby league is second to none.

"I am sure her involvement with the Knights will help take them to the next level.

“It is great to see a strong and fair-minded woman as a director at a rugby league club.”

Both Dickensons are shareholders in the Rugby AM local television show fronted by Alex Simmonds and Leeds favourite Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Gary is also heavily involved in New Earswick All Blacks ARLC and York & District ARL.

Joanne said: "It has been a joy to see the turnaround at the Knights this year under the stewardship of Jon Flatman and the team he has in place.

"The buzz within the city and the wider game for what has been achieved is a joy to see and that is why it is with great pleasure that I have accepted Jon's offer of a seat on the board of directors.

"I have been a huge fan of rugby league from grassroots right up to the professional game.

"Our sport is unique in its ability to develop bonds that last, and it is my goal to help foster these bonds between the Knights and the people of York and North Yorkshire which will help to see the game and the club grow."

She added: "As the mother of a rugby-mad 14-year-old boy at New Earswick All Blacks and a shareholder at Rugby AM, I have been able to witness what a positive influence our game can be.

"Through my involvement with Rugby AM, I have been lucky enough to meet many great characters within the sport and I will be using these relationships to help us achieve our goals."

The Knights, under Flatman's stewardship since the December takeover, have gone from the brink of folding to promotion contenders in League One, having banked a play-off place with two games to go.

The fans' forum saw Flatman discuss plans for 2018, which involve not only the first team but the Knights Ladies set-up - there is speculation of them joining the Women's Super League - and the EXCEL academy programme.

Joanne said: "It is my passion to help Jon make rugby league in York aspirational for the children of our region, and we will do that by developing and promoting positive role models that embrace the true essence of what rugby league has to offer.

"Inclusivity for all regardless of sex, race, age or religion is vital to the future of our game and wider society, and York Knights will be leading that charge."

On the first team, she added: "If we can get the city behind Fordy (head coach James Ford) and the boys, we can help propel this club to the Championship and then who knows?

"With the training facilities at Haxby Road and the (planned) new purpose-built stadium, we could in the not-to-distant future be a Super League club.

"This is such an exciting time for rugby league in our city and it is my privilege to be involved in the journey."