Castleford income set to fall by £1m

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The Independent Online

Castleford have already begun planning for life outside the game's top flight for the first time in their history.

Castleford have already begun planning for life outside the game's top flight for the first time in their history.

A proud record of 78 years without being relegated came to an end at The Jungle on Saturday, as Cas lost 32-28 to their neighbours, Wakefield, ensuring Widnes' Super League survival despite a 20-18 defeat at Hull.

Inevitably, many of Castleford's best players will now leave, with Bradford expected to announce the signing of Wayne Godwin and Hull those of Andy Lynch and Jamie Thackray this week. The club captain, Ryan Hudson, is another who will be in demand.

"Some of the guys want to stay in Super League and we can't blame them for that," said the Tigers' chief executive, Richard Wright. "But we would hope to retain most of the others." Despite being certain to lose well over £1m in income next season, Cas hope to maintain a full-time squad in a bid to bounce straight back up, like Salford last year.

They must also make a decision on who will coach them, with the former Widnes coach Neil Kelly repeatedly linked with the job. Some feel Gary Mercer has done enough to be kept on since taking over in mid-season.

Cas also need to hold on to their support. There were over 11,000, mainly home supporters at The Jungle, and almost half of them stayed on the pitch at the end to show their backing for the club in its darkest hour. Few of them expect the 11th hour reprieve that could, in theory, come their way if the winners of the National League One Grand Final next month fail to meet the promotion criteria.

Following their narrow escape, Widnes have almost as many decisions to make. If they take the advice of their acting coach, Stuart Spruce, they will try their utmost to keep Frank Endacott to work alongside him.

They will also need to recruit well if they are not to be in similar trouble next season, when two clubs will be relegated to create a place for Perpignan.

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