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National League One (NL1) club Whitehaven are cautiously considering a proposed buy out by a local businessman. The Cumbrian side, which currently operates on a shareholder system, has fielded an offer from business park developer Tony Ansell. His plan is to buy a majority share in the club, and then raise 3-4 million pounds from investors in order to bring Whitehaven?s home Recreation Field up to Superleague standards.
Whitehaven?s interest in the proposal has no doubt been encouraged by the RFLs decision to abolish the promotion/relegation system in 2009. After this date the RFL plans to promote clubs based on both their financial strength and ground facilities, rather than solely on-field performance. This decision gives NL1 teams three years in which to gain entry into Superleague before it becomes much more difficult to do so.
Whitehaven was only one game off winning the National League One last year, however it is widely understood that they would have needed substantial improvements to their ground facilities if promotion were to be considered. They currently sit second on the NL1 ladder. By investing in such facilities, Ansell hopes Whitehaven can prove to the RFL their worthiness of promotion should they win the NL1 in the future.
Some current investors in the club are skeptical about the proposal, however former coach Gordon Cottier welcomed the move, telling The Whitehaven News that any chance ??to put 3-4 million pounds into the club can only be good?. RFL boss Richard Lewis will also be pleased that his decision to abolish promotion/relegation may have contributed to an increased investment in a NL1 team.
Despite this, local authorities Copeland Council, who hold the largest share of the club after investing 13,000 pounds to save it in the 90s, are not as enthused. At a meeting last Tuesday, the council emphasized that they will not be rushed into a decision, and that the onus is on Ansell to prove the takeover is in the best interests of the club and the community.
Whitehaven shareholders and officials will meet this week to further discuss the proposal.