YORK City Knights have charted a dramatic course over the last four years - and head coach James Ford believes accession to Super League would be the next exciting chapter in that story.

From the brink of extinction in July 2016, when a statement from the then board was issued confirming the intention to close the business, the Knights were given a new lease of life later that year when they were taken over by a consortium headed by current chairman Jon Flatman.

Under the direction of Ford - who remained head coach throughout those turbulent times - the Knights won the League One title in 2018 ahead of favourites Bradford Bulls before finishing third in the Championship the subsequent season.

As well as individual accolades for players and coach over the years, York garnered recognition as their divisions’ Club of the Year for both 2018 and 2019. In 2017, York were responsible for ending a star-studded Toronto Wolfpack’s unbeaten competitive existence with a 26-16 victory at Bootham Crescent.

Now, the Knights are applying to join the top tier of English club rugby league, one of half-a-dozen clubs in the hunt to fill the 12th spot left vacant by the Wolfpack’s resignation from the competition.

“I think it’s brilliant for the club,” said Ford. “It highlights the progress the club has made to be in the position to apply.

“The players are essential to that progress and it’s another pat on the back for hard work they’ve done and are continuing to do.

“The growth on and off the field is well documented. The demographics of the area and the facilities of the club are well documented, and rightly so, as is the political and commercial support.

“But I would like to stress the story we have written and are still writing. I think it would be an exciting opportunity for Super League to be a part of that story.

“The club was pretty much on its knees in 2016 when the new owners came in.

"We’ve gone from having no players and playing in amateur - but nice - grounds in front of a few hundred people to being the first side to beat Toronto, finishing above Bradford Bulls, finishing third in the Championship, and being the highest-ranked English, part-time side outside of Super League on a sensible but moderate budget.

“Now we’re on the cusp of Super League.

"What a journey it would be to win this application process and be able to continue writing the next chapter fighting against the likes of Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers.

“I think it would give hope for everybody else in the lower leagues that clubs can change their fortunes with some hard work and a little bit of fortune here and there.

“To me, if I was a supporter of a club in a similar position to where we were at in 2016, it would excite me and give me hope that my club could follow suit.”

A recent online poll has cast the Knights as respondents’ favourites to ascend into Super League, with York receiving 40 per cent of the vote. Toulouse were second with 13 per cent.

Ford commented: “I think (the York vote) highlights what a good job the off-field department have done in promoting facilities and the demographic of the area, the growth of the club and the support we’ve got, politically and commercially.

“People will be aware of that and they will be aware of what we, in the medium- to long-term, could bring Super League.”

The application deadline is 9am on Monday. The Rugby Football League hopes that a decision will be reached by Wednesday, December 16.