Kelly fears for the future of Gateshead

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The Independent Online

Gateshead's redundant coach, Andy Kelly, says he fears for the club's young, local players if they are asked to carry the side through the rest of the season.

Kelly and the club's Yorkshire-based players had their contracts cancelled last week as the club switched to being an entirely North-east operation.

"The experienced West Yorkshire players were there to protect the North-eastern players," said Kelly, previously the coach with Wakefield Trinity. "I fear for the players and the future of the club."

However, the Gateshead chairman, Steve Worsnop, said the decision was aimed at safeguarding the club's future. "Not only do we intend to survive, but we have made a commitment to re-establishing Gateshead as a Super League team by 2008,'' he said. "These changes are not just about saving money, but also about logistics. It wasn't fair asking the players from the North-east to travel twice a week to train in Yorkshire.''

Heading the new Geordie-accented operation will be Rob Jones, who has been working as coach to Gateshead's Academy side. His brief, starting with next Sunday's rearranged game at Keighley, will be to prevent what will be the rawest side in the Northern Ford Premiership suffering too many demoralising defeats.

But Gateshead have earned only one point so far this season with their imports. "One of our young players put it rather succinctly,'' said Worsnop. "How much worse can we get?''

Meanwhile, Swinton's chief executive, Tony Barrow, expects the club chairman, Malcolm White, to resign this week.

"He has had enough of mindless criticism," said Barrow. "He has put up to £100,000 a season into the club and now we will find out whether there is anyone out there to take over. I don't know of anyone.''

Barrow, who has decided to carry on, is to meet the club's supporters to try to find a way out of the crisis. Swinton have not won an NFP game this season and just 206 people paid to watch them beat Skirlaugh in the Challenge Cup last week.

The Australian Test coach, Chris Anderson, is recovering well after a triple heart by-pass operation, according to his club, Cronulla. Anderson was twice taken ill during last autumn's tour to England.