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From Keighley News, December 27th, 2018
Written by Alistair Shand

“FIRM action” must be taken by the Rugby Football League to help secure the future of Keighley Cougars, claims the town’s MP. John Grogan made the call in Parliament when he addressed the Commons about the club’s latest turmoil. He criticised recent ownership changes and said it was “incumbent” on the game’s hierarchy to act. New owners were needed – possibly involving a supporters’ trust – to take the historic Lawkholme club forward, he added. Mr Grogan – a member of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group – said problems arose in the summer, when Cougars were taken over by Austria Holdings.

“The controlling force was a Mr Shane Spencer – the rugby league did not judge him to be a fit and proper person to run Keighley Cougars so someone else held the licence,” Mr Grogan told Parliament.

“On December 11, Austria Holdings gave-up control of Keighley Cougars (2010) Ltd. According to Companies House, Mrs Claire Auty took 75 per cent control.

“The following day, there were bankruptcy proceedings against Mr Spencer at Wakefield Court, which have been adjourned until January 4.

“I have called upon Mr Spencer to stand aside; we do not know who Mrs Auty is and she has made no statement as far as I am aware about what she intends to do with Keighley Cougars.

“The club is still in special measures with the rugby league which will not let it sign contracted players for the new season, only months away.

“Fans are deeply worried.”

Mr Grogan said the club had achieved great things in the past, with a pinnacle being the ‘Cougar-mania’ period of the 1990s when its success provided a massive lift to the town.

And he felt that with the right people at the helm, Cougars could once again be a force.

“There are consortia that will come to the fore – I understand the RFL has had at least two approaches,” said Mr Grogan.

“Also, Keighley Rugby Union Football Club has confirmed that it is quite happy to ground share with Cougars next season.
“It is incumbent on the RFL, particularly after those bankruptcy proceedings on January 4, to take firm action and issue the licence for Keighley Cougars to a more secure and presentable group of individuals – hopefully with a supporters’ trust – so that the club can rise once again.

“The club is on a terrific site and it could be part of the regeneration of Keighley, but we need action by the rugby league just as it took firm action to save the Bradford Bulls a year ago.”

Mr Spencer was contacted for a statement, but he declined to comment.

The paper also approached the club and the Rugby Football League, but neither had responded at the time of going to press.