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Betfred League One Championship and League One Workington Town

Town take former SL forward to Cumbria

Workington Town have secured the services of former Wigan, Hull FC and Hull KR back rower Danny Tickle for 2019, making the jump from full-time Super League rugby to part-time Betfred League One play with Leon Pryce’s team.

Boasting over 400 professional appearances since making his debut in 2000 for Halifax, 35-year-old Tickle brings vast experience to a Workington team who only failed to achieve promotion at the last hurdle in 2018. Last season saw the Manchester-born forward turn out 26 times for Tim Sheens’ KR team as they secured Super League survival via The Qualifiers and, with further stints with Widnes, Castleford and Leigh under his belt in the top flight, Pryce is confident that Tickle’s experience will be of huge benefit to Town. “Danny is a fantastic addition to the squad.“He has many years’ experience in Super League and is a top professional,” he told the club’s official website, adding that “playing at the highest level will be of benefit to the squad in what is a tough league.”

Keen to look at a possible future after rugby, Tickle was keen to move to part-time rugby. “Since finishing with Hull KR I’ve had a bit of time out with my family to think about my next move. After many years playing full time rugby league I decided it was time to transition into a part time environment,” he explained. “My body still feels good and I train every day at the gym so I’m in good shape for the start of the season.” After experiencing periods with clubs on both the east and west sides of the country, Tickle further added that the opportunity and challenge of playing part-time in Cumbria was something which was attractive to him.

After losing both the League One promotion play-off final and the following Championship decider to Bradford Bulls and Swinton Lions respectively, Pryce and Tickle will be keen to guide Workington to a successful 2019 campaign.

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Betfred League One Championship and League One Workington Town

Town sign Fieldhouse from rivals

Workington Town have swooped to sign full-back Ryan Fieldhouse from Cumbrian rivals Barrow on a two-year-deal.

Formerly of Halifax, 30-year-old Fieldhouse was with the Raiders for three years and has dropped down to Betfred League One despite interest from Championship clubs – believed to include teams other than Barrow. After making 27 appearances for Paul Crarey’s men in the second tier in 2018, Fieldhouse helped the club to a tenth-placed finish in their first year back in the Championship after promotion in 2017.

After sealing his move to Leon Pryce’s Workington, Fieldhouse admitted that it was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down. “I was approached by a number of Championship clubs but when Town approached me and I spoke with the coaches about the team they were putting together I jumped at the chance,” he told Town’s official website. Reflecting on his time with the Raiders, he thanked them for an enjoyable part of his career. I had 3 great years at Barrow winning promotion and playing in a great team.”

After Workington fell one game short of promotion to the second tier, losing to Bradford Bulls in the League One promotion play-off final in October, former Bull Pryce will be hoping to guide Town to the second tier in just his second campaign as a head coach in 2019.

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Betfred League One Keighley Cougars

Cougar crisis as Lingard departs

“I’m really fearful over the future of Keighley Cougars. It is an absolute mess. I can’t see Keighley Cougars starting next season.”

These words from Craig Lingard will shake the fans of Betfred League One’s Keighley to their very core after their head coach departed his role at the club, saying that he hasn’t been paid by the Cougars for the last five and a half months. “I tended my resignation on Saturday and said I could not continue as long as the players were owed money. I never walked away from a contract as a player,” he told the media as revelations surrounding players having not been paid emerged. “It has been one thing after another, there is always an excuse why the money has not gone in. It came to a point when I couldn’t take it anymore,” he added.

It is believed that players and other club employees are awaiting payment for up to three months of wages and, with no head coach to go with the clear financial difficulties, the future of the League One club is far from certain. As well as Lingard’s departure, Steve Gill – only with the club since late summer – is also set to step down from his general manager role at the club while Simon Harrison, Neil Cullen and Garry Schofield have already departed their roles as directors and ambassadors respectively.

Ritchie Hawkyard, a player with the club since 2016 but who will be wearing Oldham’s shirt in 2019, shed light on the plight of the club, revealing that money promised didn’t materialise. “They keep on lying to us and giving us false promises. Two weeks ago, they sent us all cheques but they all bounced,” he told the media.“They banging our heads against the wall now and we don’t know who to go to because we’ve tried places already. They’ve also not paid anyone’s taxes all year but have been taking it off us.”

While Keighley haven’t made any official comment since the comments of Lingard and Hawkyard were made public, it is likely that a statement will be released in the near future.

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Betfred Championship Betfred League One Challenge Cup

Challenge Cup final to move and a new competition for 2019

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The Rugby Football League (RFL) have today announced that the Challenge Cup final will move from August to July as of 2020 and that, for 2019, a new domestic competition for teams outside Super League will commence.

The 1895 Cup will comprise of all teams outside of the top flight and will give those teams in the Betfred Championship and League One a chance of playing at Wembley, given that the final of the competition will take place as part of the build up to the Challenge Cup final. It will give those teams outside of Super League a more realistic chance of playing in a showpiece final than they have in the Challenge Cup and will no doubt excite players and fans of the clubs involved. “This innovation makes that dream of Wembley much more realistic and achievable,” Ralph Rimmer, the RFL’s CEO, told the media following the announcement. “It’s a recognition that the game has changed since the onset of full-time professionalism in the Super League era, meaning that for a good number of the Championship and League One clubs who have won the Challenge Cup in the past, reaching Wembley currently seems a distant dream,” he added.

The event will culminate it’s first outing on August Bank Holiday weekend next year but, as of 2020, it will be moved forward as the Challenge Cup final moves from it’s now customary slot at the end of August to mid-July with Saturday 18th July being confirmed as the date for the 2020 Challenge Cup Final. Since being moved in the mid-noughties to towards the end of the season, the Bank Holiday weekend has often proved unpopular with fans who experience difficulties getting to London due to railway and road maintenence often being undertaken at such a time. That has led to attendances dropping in recent years and, while the presence of Catalans Dragons in this year’s final no doubt hindered it, a seventy-plus year low of 50,672 has clearly triggered the decision in the RFL’s mind.

The organisation has also extended it’s deal with Wembley Stadium to host the Challenge Cup final at the national stadium, something Rimmer was delighted about. “This is a significant and exciting day for the Challenge Cup, and the game’s relationship with Wembley Stadium,” he outlined. “Next year we will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first Challenge Cup Final at Wembley in 1929. Rugby League is proud of the length and strength of that association. We are therefore delighted to confirm the extension of that relationship until 2027,” Rimmer added.