JAMES FORD has urged City of York Council representatives to watch his York City Knights squad bust a gut in pre-season – and then tell them they have nowhere to play.

Former Castleford, Widnes and Knights star Ford, in his first few months as a head coach, has spoken of his “deep frustration” as the Community Stadium saga struggles to overcome an apparent impasse in which his club have been kicked out of Huntington Stadium but without now being given anywhere else to play or train - with the planned switch to Bootham Crescent shrouded in doubt.

Ford, who had been targeting a promotion season in Kingstone Press League One, says he has never known a situation where a council has provided "so little support to the city's club”.

The council has again said it cannot comment.

“It’s a bizarre and frustrating situation, and I’m trying my very best to make sure it does not overly affect our development as a team,” said Ford, who took the reins from Gary Thornton in the autumn.

“But it’s not the start to a head coaching career I had anticipated.

“I did not expect to have this situation where the city’s council, of the city we represent, provides so little support to the city's club.

“Hopefully we will get to the bottom of it soon.”

The impasse arose after the Knights' lease of Huntington Stadium was ended so the council-owned ground could be redeveloped into a stadium to house both the rugby club and neighbours York City.

The scheme involved the Knights sharing City's Bootham Crescent home until the new arena was built, but The Press understands the council recently amended that deal so the rugby club could play at Bootham Crescent only for the next two years.

The Knights refused to agree, fearing they could be made homeless if the community stadium, beset by problems over the years, is not ready by then.

The council - which has not said why the amendment was made - has now withdrawn from negotiations with the rugby club, claiming it is in legal dispute with club chairman John Guildford, and has prevented the players from training at York St John University’s facilities, as had previously been agreed as part of the project.

It will not confirm whether the deal for the Knights to play at Bootham Crescent has also been withdrawn - as is understood - but City chiefs have confirmed the Knights’ January 11 friendly against Hull is unlikely to go ahead.

In the meantime, Ford’s men are training at Manor School’s artificial pitch and at partner club Castleford Tigers’ gym, with York St John also offering facilities at weekends – support Ford is “massively grateful for”. However, Manor School and the university grounds are closed for Christmas until January 5.

“We’re hoping common sense prevails,” said the head coach of the impasse.

“I asked the players to dig in and show character and professionalism in the run-up to Christmas when the training schedule was being changed frequently.

“They did that and I want to repay it by getting these facilities arrangements sorted out.

“The council should come down and see how hard these lads train and how committed they are to playing well and representing this city.

“People need to realise they deserve the support of everybody in York and North Yorkshire.

“Half of the squad are local lads and they want to represent their city and do their city proud.

“Obviously I can see their frustration and that of supporters and people around York about the stadium situation.

“I can’t let that influence me or the players. We’re preparing to play Hull on January 11 – we need to have the mindset the game will be on - and I expect the players to prepare well and perform to a good standard.”

A council spokesman said: "Any proposed terms and conditions discussed with project partners for the community stadium development are commercially confidential therefore we will not comment on specific queries in relation to such terms.

"The council has been forced to take legal advice regarding litigious claims Mr Guildford has made against the council. The council therefore remains in legal dispute with Mr Guildford and has withdrawn from negotiations with him with regard to the Community Stadium."

When asked to clarify this dispute, she added: "We are not able to go into the details of litigious claims. Legal representatives for both parties are in discussion."