Crusaders, whose continued existence has been in doubt since they pulled out of next year's Super League, have applied to play in the Championship.
The Wrexham-based club believe there is enough backing in the town to sustain rugby league at that level. "We have announced our intention to apply for a spot in the Championship for 2012," said their chief executive, Rod Findlay. He said there had been 4000 individual messages of support, plus interest from local businesses, since Crusaders made their shock decision to withdraw from the elite division.
"That has given us the confidence to press ahead," he said. The next step will be to submit a business plan to the Rugby League, who have indicated they will be receptive. With most of their players either signed up by, or looking for other Super League clubs, Crusaders face a formidable task of recruitment in time for next season. They will also have to find a replacement for their coach, Iestyn Harris, who is lined up for the assistant's job at Wigan.
The acceptance of Crusaders into the Championship will give Wales a second semi-professional club, with the Neath-based South Wales Scorpions playing in Championship 1.
Wembley, meanwhile, is heading for a crowd of around 75,000 for Saturday's Challenge Cup final between Leeds and Wigan.Reuse content