AS 2022 came to an end, we sat down with York RLFC chairman Clint Goodchild to reflect on his first 12 months in charge.

In the second of our two-part interview, Goodchild discusses York Valkyrie turning professional next year, NRLW interest in the club’s stars and rugby league's IMG change.

York Valkyrie had another really successful season. How would you sum up their 2022?

“Incredible. Out of the four bits of silverware available, we got two pieces. Winning the inaugural Nines competition was a great achievement, as was winning the League Leaders’ Shield (in the Betfred Women's Super League).

“Seeing four of our players in England colours at the World Cup and the recognition that Tara Stanley got for winning Woman of Steel, that’s something we should be making more noise about.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Tara goes back-to-back with the way she’s going in pre-season. She’s as driven as ever.

“Plus, we had six players in the England Knights set-up and the next World Cup is only three years away.

“All signs point to more success in the future.

“From a recruitment standpoint, we’re trying to add one or two pieces to solidify what we built last season.”

What’s the latest on professionalism for Valkyrie?

“We’ll be going to a paid structure with the Valkyrie next year. It’s been part of our planning for more than six months.

“The RFL are in support of it and it’s in alignment with what Leeds (Rhinos) are doing too.

“Having had good conversations with (CEO) Gary Hetherington at Leeds, we’re very comparable.

“We’re excited to be at the forefront of this."

That's another massive step from where the Valkyrie were in 2019...

“It’s great recognition for the girls and this is just the first step. There’s going to be on-going increases, looking at how quickly the NRLW has taken off.

“The majority of the players in our squad are under the age of 24. Our hope is that every girl in our squad can play out their careers subject to their bodies not subject to their wallets.

“They don’t have to retire due to income, they can reach their potential as players as long as they can sustain their fitness.”

Lindsay Anfield previously told us about York scouting players at the World Cup. What’s the latest on recruitment?

“The money in the NRLW is significant. They’ve increased their salary cap, more than doubling it for the coming season and the size of the competition has also expanded.

“It’s difficult for us to recruit here right now because of that. It’s a good wake-up call and eye-opener for us about how we bring players to our competition here and also how we keep our women here.

“If someone has the opportunity to go to the NRLW, we have to support them in going. We’d be doing them an injustice as a professional athlete (if we didn’t).

“Our women performed well on the international stage and that of course brings interest.

“The likes of Hollie Dodd and Tara, I’d be surprised if they’re not being pursued by NRLW clubs right now.

“If they find that opportunity, we’ll support them, really support them, helping them get there and find accommodation. That’s the right thing to do for those players.”

How do you reflect on the eight Women's World Cup matches here at the LNER Community Stadium?

“The semi-final day, having over 7,000 (7,139) in for a rugby league event was significant and it being a women’s event made it even more significant.

“It was the first opportunity to showcase our stadium on an international stage.

“Having the New Zealand men’s team as well as the women’s teams from New Zealand, Australia, France and Cook Islands based here in York, the relationship we’ve built with them, I still get messages from them. Those sorts of relationships are invaluable.”

What can you tell us at the moment on the IMG changes?

“I don’t think anyone has clarity around the ranking system yet.

“From the conversations we’ve had with IMG, the league and the other clubs, I’d say York is very positively positioned. We tick a lot of boxes.

“We’re not becoming complacent. We’re continuing to reinvest in those areas until it’s indisputable that we belong (in Super League).

“I believe that something is coming out in February regarding the criteria.”

You’ve previously said that it will be a while before the club runs at break even…

“We’re in a reinvestment phase. If I wanted this club to break even next year, we could do that.

“But would that put us in the best position we could possibly be in for 2025? No.

“We have to continue to reinvest. Our commercial (department) is doing really well, which is a massive positive and an early focus, but it’s not about profit at the moment.

“It’s about getting the business to where it needs to be to be in that top tier.

“It’s a different approach and opportunity to the past in that its built on business principles and long-term goals for a league rather than ‘Let’s throw loads of money at players, win, celebrate too hard, then come back down next year’. This is a sustainable model.

“We’ll be looking to invest over the next four years and worry about profit after that.”

How much change do you envisage on and off the field before 2025?

“There’s plenty of change to be had on and off the field. It’s all about increasing, not interchanging. We need a bigger back office team.

“With change comes more work and with more work comes more employees. Looking at the back office when I purchased the club there were four people. Now we’ve got 12.

“The team we have off the field is as important as the team on the field from a sustainability point of view.

“Looking at the men’s team on the field, we’ve increased that budget by over £100,000 this year. That’s significant. This is a reinvestment phase.”