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14 October 2022

By late July and early August, when we considered promotion to the Championship a possibility, the process of planning for 2023 was already well in hand.

As CEO I was in regular conversation with our Head Coach Allan Coleman and our Board regarding which players we wished to retain, and those we felt we might lose. Together we also continued the process of compiling a target list of players that we thought would add value not just in terms of strengthening our squad, but would also come for the right reasons in terms of attitude, and who would fit the club’s budget. At this point two budgets had already been prepared, one based on Championship football and the other on League 1 football. They were very different as you can imagine!

However, the one thing we could not guarantee in early August was of course promotion. And bearing in mind that RFL regulations allow approaches to other clubs’ contracted players from May, a good number of our players had already become major targets for clubs already in the Championship. In terms of divisional status Swinton Lions was clearly in an unknown position at that time, and against that uncertainty it was inevitable that some of our players would be tempted away. Had we been able to guarantee Championship football in 2023 the situation might have been different, but that said, the overwhelming vast majority of the players that we wished to retain will indeed stay at Swinton Lions. Over the next few days, as I finalise contracts with those players, we will begin to announce our 2023 squad. The retained players will be joined by a number of new signings, and the process of new recruitment, which began weeks ago, is continuing as we speak.

Let me assure Swinton Lions fans that we are not going into the Championship to be cannon fodder. I am clear about this, the Board is clear about this, as is the Head Coach, his staff, and the players themselves. We cannot guarantee our league position, but we can guarantee blood, sweat and sheer effort.

Last night we released short pieces on official club social media to announce the players that will be leaving us. Fans rightly expect honesty and transparency and that was the intention. In terms of the timing and methodology, the block announcements were deliberate. We felt that prolonging this process would have created unnecessary ongoing negativity, when the reality was that we just wanted to show courtesy to our outgoing players and then fully concentrate back on the tasks in hand. Bear in mind also that on a point of respect we first wanted to consult the players concerned to ensure they were comfortable about our intentions. We were however disappointed with the discourteous actions of one particular club, in that they chose to go “official” without offering a heads-up to us as the club that the player is still technically contracted to, and receiving wages from. But hey-ho that’s fine and we move on.

On 2nd October we enjoyed a fantastic day in the history of Swinton Lions RLFC, and as a die-hard Swinton fan myself, as are the rest of the Board, we know that such days have been all too irregular over the past 50 years. We invested significantly to achieve our goal, and I suspect only Keighley invested more in League 1 in 2022, so hopefully that demonstrates how determined we were to get out of League 1. Establishing ourselves in the Championship again will of course be tough, but the Board and the Head Coach agree that our best chance will only come about if everyone associated with the club is pulling in the same direction. We will shortly be announcing 2023 Season Ticket prices and hopefully we can rely on your support. We will also be continuing talks with the Pridebuilder admins about 2023 recruitment assistance.

Finally, on a separate topic, there will be an official club statement tomorrow regarding the IMG proposals.



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