YORK City Knights have announced four new directors have joined the board - in a significant development not only for the club but also the community stadium saga.

A statement released by the club confirms they will not replace chairman John Guildford, the current majority shareholder, but "work alongside" him.

However, the new directors will take full control of the Knights' community stadium negotiations - assuming City of York Council reopen talks after it previously made clear it would no longer deal with Guildford, whom it blamed for a breakdown in relations.

Guildford has signed an agreement not to interfere in those talks and, in a further concession of overall control, a deed of undertaking has been approved which "limits the power of any one individual at the club to appoint or remove a director".

The new directors are:

  • Stephen Knowles, head of company commercial at Ison Harrison Solicitors, and a sports law specialist 
  • Dave Baldwin, York-born managing director of Castles UK 
  • Neil Jennings, York-born managing director of Centurion Rugby
  • Gary Dickenson, York-born chief executive and owner of York-based cosmetic dentistry company CFast Ltd

The Press exclusively revealed that the significant development was imminent but it had been unclear what role Guildford would have in the new set-up. 

No details of respective shareholdings have been announced, and it is believed this will only be decided if and when the club's immediate future is assured - in other words if and when they secure a guaranteed home as part of the community stadium project, firstly sharing York City's Bootham Crescent and then moving into the new arena.

A club statement said: "York City Knights are delighted to announce the club will enter rugby league’s exciting new era with a new-look board of directors that will enable the club to realise its ambitions in 2015 and beyond.

"In a significant move for the Kingstone Press League One club, four new directors have joined the board to work alongside chairman John Guildford.

"The quartet are all businessmen with a long-standing passion for both York City Knights and rugby league in the city and will bring a wealth of expertise and know-how to the club.

"The board was convened with support from Rugby Football League chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer and met for the first time on Wednesday night when the directors also unanimously agreed to a deed of undertaking which limits the power of any one individual at the club to appoint or remove a director.

"Having made these significant concessions, it is now hoped that these actions will pave the way to the re-opening of dialogue with City of York Council about the club’s involvement in the proposed new community stadium.

"To facilitate progress on that front, John Guildford has agreed to step back from direct involvement and a new negotiating team has been appointed."

Guildford said: “This is a fantastic development for both the club and rugby league in York and it gives me great pleasure to welcome Stephen, Dave, Neil and Gary to the board.

“They are all successful businessmen and, just as importantly, they are people that care about York.

"Their presence on the board will be invaluable in the months and years to come as we strive to make York City Knights a club the whole city can be proud of.

“I would also like to place on record my thanks to the RFL for the important role they have played in making this exciting move happen.”

Rimmer said: “We have spoken with all parties over the last ten days and throughout. It has been clear that everyone involved has the interests of York City Knights and York at heart.

“I attended the meeting on Wednesday night and was hugely impressed by the level of commitment shown by John and the new board members.

“The importance of the next steps for the club and the stadium are not lost on anyone with whom I have spoken, and this sense of urgency has been demonstrated by the pace at which all involved have worked.”

Meanwhile, the Knights' friendly against Castleford is definitely cancelled.

It was originally scheduled for this evening at Wheldon Road but Cas said that, with questionable weather, they needed to protect their pitch for their Super League opener against Wakefield next weekend.

The clubs tried to rearrange it and York RUFC - who hosted a Knights training session on Wednesday night - agreed to stage it at their Clifton Park home on Sunday, but the Tigers were unable to rearrange their plans in time.