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Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 16:41 UK

Clubs confident over franchises

Richard Wright
Wright (centre) on the site of Castleford's new stadium

Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats have said they are confident of winning Super League franchises.

The Rugby Football League (RFL) will announce which 14 clubs are to get licences at 1000 BST on 22 July.

Both the Tigers' and Wildcats' main hurdles are their stadia, with the RFL telling them they need to find new homes in the future.

"It is a nervous time but we are very confident," Tigers chief executive Richard Wright told BBC Radio Leeds.

Nineteen clubs have applied for a licence, with many believing that from the current Super League outfits Castleford and Wakefield are at greatest risk of failing to be selected.

The Tigers are currently bottom of the Super League and have yo-yoed between the leagues for sometime.

But they have already signed up many of their big names and young stars to long-term contracts, signalling their confidence in winning a franchise.

Wright added: "The confidence comes from the strength of the bid, I've been at the heart of it and every aspect looks strong for me.

"I think there are three very solid reasons why Castleford should get a franchise.

"The first is the very strong supporter-base we have, I think Super League clubs are going to need to average 10,000 in the future.

"Our average is 7,500 which is impressive considering we've only won four games, with a new stadium coming we are confident we would get 10,000 at least.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Wakefield are in their first Challenge Cup semi-final for 27 years

"Secondly is junior development, we have a great reputation for developing talented youngsters.

"Also having the club in the town inspires youngsters to take up the game.

"Thirdly, within the three years of a franchise we would achieve nine out of the 10 Super League strategy aims, which is very important to the RFL.

Like Castleford, fierce rivals Wakefield have also worked tirelessly to prove their worth, both on and off the field.

Wildcats general manager Francis Stephenson said: "I'm convinced we have a very viable chance of staying in the Super League.

"The work we did on the application astounded me, in a number of areas we provide so much.

"In my opinion it will be the current 12 Super League clubs and two new ones.

In deciding which clubs will earn a three-year deal the RFL award points to each application on various areas, including location, youth development, attendances and on-the-field performance.

In previous years performance could have been a weak area for the Wildcats, as they struggled to compete with the sport's bigger teams.

But under head coach Jon Kear Wakefield are now fighting for a play-off place and are in their first Challenge Cup semi-final for 27 years.

We have improved the stadium in order to match the criteria for now, namely increasing the capacity to 12,000

Francis Stephenson

Stephenson explained: "I think this year we have shown we are fighters, we have contributed lots this season and for the last 10 years."

Like Castleford, Wakefield are also in the progress of developing a new stadium and Stephenson does not think playing at Belle Vue will cost them a franchise this time around.

"I think currently we are fine with what we have at Belle Vue to get the franchise.

"We have improved the stadium in order to match the criteria for now, namely increasing the capacity to 12,000.

"But certainly for the next franchise bid in three years we will need to be in or at least very close to opening the doors of a new stadium."

see also
St Helens 68-12 Castleford
11 Jul 08 |  Rugby League
Shenton signs new Castleford deal
24 Jun 08 |  Castleford
Wakefield 18-26 Hull
12 Jul 08 |  Rugby League
Demetriou signs new Wildcats deal
01 Jul 08 |  Wakefield

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