Halifax hope The Shay will be first in line for a facelift

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The Independent Online

The newly-solvent, even prosperous, Rugby League is introducing a new fund to help clubs at all levels improve their grounds.

The Facilities Trust, due to be unveiled this weekend, is designed to help clubs like Halifax, who have been waiting for years to complete their ground at The Shay, but it could be used by anyone from Super League level down to the humblest amateurs.

"Now that we have been able to stop dealing with losses, this is the sort of thing we can do," said Nigel Wood, the chief executive of the League. Clubs will be expected to generate their own money for improvements which the fund will then match.

Wood said that the game's latest three-year TV deal with Sky has been a contributing factor in being able to set up the trust – although details of that contract will not be revealed until it is finalised during the coming season.

In another boost for the smaller clubs, Sky are to show a game from each of the knockout rounds of the Northern Rail Cup this season. Previously, only the final of the Cup competition for clubs outside Super League had been televised.

Huddersfield's close season signing from Featherstone, Danny Kirmond, will miss his new side's third and last pre-season fixture against Batley this Sunday with an injured knee.

The Salford coach, Shaun McRae, will come up against another famous name in the Reds' opening Northern Rail Cup fixture on Sunday week, when they take on a Bobbie Goulding-coached Rochdale Hornets.

"Bobbie is very inspirational and a very enthusiastic person," said McRae. "He's highly motivated and dedicated. If he coaches the same way he prepared as a player, then he's going to have his players well up for this game."

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