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Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Super League's Crusaders complete move to Wrexham FC

Wrexham's Racecourse Ground
Wrexham's Racecourse Ground will be the Crusaders' new home

Super League-side Crusaders have made their move from south Wales to Wrexham.

Wrexham Football Club have taken them over and they will play 11 of 13 home matches at the Racecourse, including the 29 January opener against Leeds.

The ex-Bridgend club, who had planned a Newport base in 2010, will play their other two home games in south Wales.

The Crusaders call the move "the only realistic option to ensure the survival of the club", but Jonathan Davies says it leaves them open to criticism.

"It's been moved up there [to Wrexham] purely for financial reasons," said former dual-code international Davies.

Bringing Super League to Wrexham is akin to bringing Premiership football to Wales

Wrexham chief executive Paul Retout

"The franchise was given to the south Wales area and I'm sure that everyone concerned is disappointed at what's happening," Davies said.

"I do feel sorry for the likes of Leigh and especially Widnes, who lost out to the south Wales franchise.

"Now they will be moving to within 30 miles of their clubs, so it's a bit unfair on them."

Wrexham chief executive Paul Retout says that the move opens up exciting possibilities, though.

"Bringing Super League to Wrexham is akin to bringing Premiership football to Wales," he said.

"Crusaders rugby league really puts Wrexham on the map. It's great news for the town, for Wales and for rugby league.

Not only has the future of Crusaders been saved but rugby league has been able to reinforce its presence in Wales

Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood

"North Wales has been starved of major sporting success for too many years and we are confident we can achieve that success in Super League."

The move was also welcomed by Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood.

"It is great news that not only has the future of Crusaders been saved but that rugby league has been able to reinforce its presence in Wales," said Wood.

"For the first time rugby league has a whole of Wales presence.

"This is a very exciting opportunity and I am sure that Geoff Moss, Paul Retout and his fellow directors at Wrexham will provide the vision, the leadership and the resources required to make Crusaders succeed in Wales.

"The RFL Clubs' support unit has been working closely with the Crusaders in recent months and will continue to make its skills and expertise available over what is a very important period in the club's evolution."

Plans to move the club from Bridgend to Newport were scrapped when new investment failed to materialise and owner Leighton Samuel agreed to cut his losses by transferring the club to the Wrexham consortium.

The Crusaders hope that their two home games away from the Racecourse will help the club to maintain a Super League presence in south Wales and they will forge links with newly-formed Championship One club South Wales, who are based at Neath.

"Every option was explored to preserve the Crusaders and we're grateful for Wrexham Village Ltd for coming in," said Crusaders chief executive Mike Turner.


"They were the only realistic option to ensure the survival of the club and without them the Crusaders wouldn't have been around to start the 2010 season."

Crusaders beat off stiff competition from other, more established teams to win a three-year Super League franchise.

A big plus in their favour was their geographical location away from the north-west of England, with the Rugby Football League keen to grow the game.

But they endured a disappointing debut season in Super League, winning just three games in the league and facing the embarrassment of seeing six of their players deported for breaching visa regulations.

Crusaders, who have dropped 'Celtic' from their name, had to wait until May to record their first Super League win, but claimed the notable scalp of winning at big-guns Bradford.

A first home win arrived in June against Wigan, with fellow new boys Salford becoming the Crusaders' third win.

With victories proving elusive it was always going to be an uphill struggle to attract supporters to the Brewery Field.

Attendance peaked at a respectable 6,351 for the 4-0 loss to St Helens, but generally the fan numbers hovered around the 3,000 mark.

John Dixon was the head coach last season but he has been replaced by former Wigan, Bradford and Great Britain coach Brian Noble, with Wales coach Iestyn Harris also set to be involved.

Crusaders' only confirmed signing for 2010 is Hull hooker Tommy Lee, but the club say they plan more announcements in the coming weeks.

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see also
Crusaders' move 'may cause anger'
15 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders move to save Wrexham FC
11 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
New Welsh league club confirmed
11 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders sign ex-Hull hooker Lee
02 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders face 60,000 visa fine
30 Nov 09 |  Crusaders
Leeds face kick-off at Crusaders
18 Nov 09 |  Rugby League
Crusaders drop 'Celtic' from name
02 Nov 09 |  Crusaders
Noble unveiled as Crusaders coach
14 Oct 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders to make Newport switch
21 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders to play at Racecourse
03 Sep 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders celebrate Super League status
22 Jul 08 |  Rugby League
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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